Chadillac2000's 2008 135i Road Warrior Daily Driver Build Thread


Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
Preface: So I recently discovered this forum after bouncing around a few others. First was N54Tech, then that expanded to 1Addicts, E90Post, and eventually bummerboost when I started getting into more complex modifications. I'm going to copy my build thread over to Spool Street for reference as I feel this forum fits my needs as to how my interests have evolved on this platform, and as I approach my first DIY turbo install, will be something I continue to update. Look forward to joining you guys in discussions!


08-15-2016: I've been a member of the N54 community for 5+ years now. My first N54 powered car was a "Certified Pre-Owned" 2008 BMW 535i that I purchased with only around 50,000 miles on the odometer from Century BMW in South Carolina. For those interested, the car is currently still being driven daily with over 175,000 miles and running great with the original turbos. This served as a great foundation for learning the ropes of this platform and I very much enjoyed adding a plethora of bolt on parts as well as taking care of the maintenance myself. After 5 years of every day use and adding over 125,000 miles on the car myself, I began to seek a way to give the car a bit of a rest from the high amount of miles it was racking up; plus I had developed a distaste for the automatic transmission, heavy curb weight, and squishy suspension.


What I'd be looking at getting in trade-in value or private party sale with this many miles was minimal, so I just decided to keep the car and began looking for the car I'd been crushing on for the past 6 months: the E82 135i. I tried to be fair to other cars and investigate something that would fit my wants/needs, but the 135i always came out on top. For 3 months I scoured the country for one with exactly what I was looking for which included: 6-speed, completely stock, white black or silver exterior, HIDs, and less than 70,000 miles.

When the right car popped up, I quickly hopped on the seller’s asking price and made arrangements to make the 7-hour drive to Norfolk, Virginia to bring the car back home to North Carolina with me. The seller said all the right things, and the car was even in better condition than described. Bone stock, always warmed up properly before being pushed, maintained religiously, had already had some of the injectors and HPFP replaced under warranty, and as clean inside-and-out as an 8 year old car could be. 53,000 miles on the odometer and right in my price range too. Besides the very first time I got behind the wheel of my first E46 M3, I had never been so happy after purchasing a car. I smiled the entire drive back home as I got used to everything; especially the active steering and 6-speed gearbox. The 535i has since been inherited by my significant other who has retired the car to simply getting her to work and back, about a 10 mile round trip. We also use the car for road trips and simple errands on the weekends when the 135i doesn’t make sense. Here’s a shot right after I got the E82 back home and she was introduced to her big brother.





I wasted no time getting to the modding side of things. Since the 535i was going to spend the rest of its life being driven nice and easy, I started analyzing which parts I could swap over. I did not want to deal with the hassle of reinstalling the OEM down-pipes to the 535i, which meant I’d need to retain some type of tune to keep the service engine lights away. The FMIC had also been performing great and had taken some fabrication to install correctly on the E60 platform, so I decided to keep that. And lastly, the Fuel-It! Stage 2 LPFP was performing flawlessly and was installed initially to replace a failing OEM unit, so that would stay installed as well.

At that point, I began picking up some used parts including a cheap, older JB4 G4 with wiring harness. I swapped out the G5 ISO and Bluetooth connector from the 535i to the 135i and installed using the including wiring harness from the JB4 G4. I was able to tuck the JB4 itself deep into the ECU box so the lid could easily close without issue. Now both cars were running JB4 tunes, and although the 535i was equipped with a slightly outdated model, it still retained all the code reading and deleting functionality I was looking for.


After knocking the JB4 install out quickly, I was feeling ambitious about completing all the mods I had on hand which included this extensive to-do list: changing the oil, plugging the holes from the front license plate, swapping over the used BMS dual cone intakes from the 535i, installing an ER charge pipe with HKS BOV and a 7” VRSF FMIC I purchased used from the forums, a new RB PCV valve, new OEM spark plugs, BMS cowl filters, a BMS modified CDV, a BMS clutch stop, blackout grills, LUX H8 amber angel eye LED bulbs. If this sounds like a lot to install in one day, it was. Took me practically an entire day to get everything in, but surprisingly enough, caught almost no snags and was able to take my time and was able to triple check my work. The FMIC gives the front end an aggressive look, but by leaving the lower mesh installed, leaves a little to the imagination as well.



The charge pipe and HKS BOV were the first aftermarket parts to find their way on my car. I'd always been hesitant to run the HKS BOV, and even though I probably won't run it forever because of the aggressive sound, its hard to deny the fun factor at times.


I've always preferred the badge-less look, so it wasn't long before the fishing line and Goo-Gone were at it again.


After letting my hands and body heal over the next 5 days, I was back at it the next weekend installing a used set of BMS down-pipes and a new set of MMP stock location silicone inlets. Previous to taking on this install, I thought that installing down-pipes on the E60 535i was the hardest thing I’d put in by myself because of the tight clearances and awkward angles. Little did I know this would be a walk in the park compared to inlets. The strategic decision to install inlets and down-pipes at the same time was no accident and was done to avoid tearing the car apart twice. I would need to remove the OEM downpipes regardless to reach the rear inlet, so might as well upgrade them instead of putting the restrictive original pipes back in place.


I took my time removing the plastic under trays and OEM down-pipes, and besides one of the nuts/bolts connecting the down-pipes and midpipes shearing off and having to be cut, the disassembly was fairly simple. A few hours in and I was ready to tackle the removal of the front OEM inlet. The front inlet was easy enough to get out and I was even able to pull it out in one full piece by removing the radiator fan.


The MMP replacement was secured with no issues, cleared the front belts perfectly and was completed in less than an hour. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident. If you look deep enough at the engine bay from up top, you can make out the MMP logo on the inlet connecting to the snout of the front turbo.


I quickly moved to breaking the rear inlet mounting tabs loose, and made the cut at the bottom of the rear inlet so I could pull it out the top. While this wasn’t the easiest, another hour and it was complete. I was still confident and not sure why people had claimed having such difficulties doing this on jack stands.


So four hours from the start of the install, I was now looking at placing the rear inlet into place, and everything would be complete. After the first four hours were enjoyable, I spent the next four hours letting my little 135i beat the **** out of me. I bled, I perspired, and I cursed. I’ve had to call in reinforcements before due to time constraints or to help hold something heavy, but never have I had to call in reinforcements because I simply couldn’t get it done by myself. I reached a point where there was no option going forward without another pair of hands. Even after calling in a friend to pull from the bottom as I pushed from the top, we were barely able to get it through, and then spent the next 30 minutes or so getting the inlet on the turbo itself and secured properly. down-pipes went on with ease, but never fun dealing with those pesky v-band clamps. Exhausted and relieved doesn’t begin to explain the feeling of cranking up the car, hearing no strange noises, no service lights, and hearing the engine purr with a slightly deeper growl than before.
MMP inlets finally in place:


The next weekend, it was time to address the current suspension. While the M-Sport OEM setup on the 135i was a giant step up from the feel of my 535i, I still had desires to get rid of the wheel gap, stiffen the ride slightly, but nothing to adversely effect drivability on a daily basis. When Tire Rack put the combination of the Koni STR.T shocks and Eibach Pro-Kit on sale at a little over $500, I jumped on the opportunity to upgrade. I've swapped out a dozen or so suspensions on newer model BMWs, so the installation on the E82 wasn't too difficult.



Rear Koni shocks and Eibach Pro-Kit springs ready to be put in to place:


And installed:


One front spring/shock into place, and the other assembled:


The previous owner had ditched the original run-flat tires in exchange for some Michelin PSS in upgraded sizes. He'd obviously pushed the tires through the twisties on a few occasions as they had decent wear on the outer edge of the fronts. Before I knew it, the front tires were in dire need of replacing. This was an excuse to get the wheel setup I'd always been set on since first seeing them -- Apex ARC-8. As their stock was dwindling, I was able to pull the trigger on a set of anthracite ARC-8 wheels in 18x8.5 ET45 & 18x9.5 ET58 wrapped in a set of brand new 235/265 Hankook V12s.




The BMS wheel pin and lug tool are both really helpful, and certainly something I wanted to use when mounting up the new wheels for the first time.


I also threw on some cheap smoked side markers from DDM tuning -- $10 + $10 shipping.



I'm really loving the new look. The drop is perfect and the ride is fantastic. Obviously not a huge leap in improvement over the stock suspension, but the lower center of gravity and more rubber makes it feel light, nimble, and confident. The wheels and tires go great with the black exterior and really bring the car together. Here's a sneak peek of the new stance and appearance until I can find the time for a proper shoot.


I spent the new few weeks enjoying the glorious new sounds coming from the front and rear of the car, getting used to all the available power on tap, and doing plenty of "parking lot look backs" to admire the new suspension, wheels, and tires. I’m not one to fully push the limits of an engine, so on 93 pump gas, I was content with the 13psi on map 1 for the time being. The combination of the cowl filters, intakes, inlets, hard intercooler pipes, HKS BOV, and catless down-pipes made the car sound sensational, while the modified CDV and clutch stop helped out with getting the car to effortlessly engage into each gear.

But it wasn't long before the E85 station on my way to work started calling my name.


After thoroughly shaking down the car with all the new mods and making sure everything was working properly, I added 3 gallons of E85 to an empty tank, filled the rest up with 93 octane as I had done time and time before on my 535i, set the JB4 to Map 5 and gave it a whirl. I did a few quick pulls to let the ECU learn and on my third pull with this new mixture, a dreaded misfire reared its ugly head. At this point the problem was only surfacing at WOT and under boost and my first log indicated that I desperately needed a back end flash to get my trims in line. In addition to gathering the equipment to use the BB software to load a back end flash more suitable for E85 use, I also decided to purchase my second Fuel-It! product: a new build Stage 2 LPFP.


This would give me the flexibility of adding more E85 once I got things running right. As was my last install with a Fuel-It product, this one went about as smoothly as possible and only took a little over one hour. Hooking up my BT cable and flashing the 135i with the BMS E85 BEF took longer than the install of the pump when it was all said and done. I also took this opportunity to flash my 535i back to the OEM BIN seeing as how it wouldn't be seeing much E85 anymore. Once I had verified everything was flowing properly and the new BEF boost settings were working correctly, I switched to 4/2 on the JB4, added what I equated to be a full tank of E50 and switched to map 1, which would target 15psi. I immediately began having the same misfire issues as before, but unfortunately this time it seemed to be getting worse as I drove and was triggering a cylinder 6 misfire code that eventually wouldn’t go away. Eventually the car began to run on only 5 cylinders, all the while this is the only code that was being triggered.


Since the spark plugs had only a few hundred miles on them, I expected a failed coil to be the culprit. I made the decision to replace all six so I wouldn’t have to deal with the need to replace one by one at a later date. After installing the new coils, I fired the car up with the new coils installed and still the same symptoms. Poor idle, running on 5 cylinders, etc. At this point I was a bit discouraged. Despite all the aftermarket parts being installed correctly and functioning properly I did not have a functioning vehicle. Misfires are common with N54 engines, and I’ve had to deal with them before with the 535i, but I hadn’t really expected having to investigate injector problems so soon after purchasing the car (only 2500 miles so far); especially injectors that had supposedly already been replaced once. Following a deep dive into everything injectors about this car, I discovered I had a mixture of two 07 and four 08 index injectors. Cylinder 6 happened to be one of those 07 index injectors. At this point I was already annoyed, so I wanted to avoid having this headache in the future.

Six new index 12 injectors would hopefully solve my problem and keep me misfire free in the near future considering the car now has all new injectors, coil packs and plugs.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
Everything all laid out after removing the old injectors and prior to putting in the new index 12s:


Following some time in map 4 to make sure everything was functioning properly, I filled up with a tank of E40, switched to map 1 at 15psi, found some open road with no traffic, and rolled into the throttle. Plenty of power, no misfire, and felt smooth as silk with the new back end flash. Map 2, E40 fuel, and my current mods brought about all I was looking for in my power output from my daily driver -- gobs of torque and horsepower, conservative boost levels, and sounded sensational, but still a few decibels too quiet for my desires. A log of the map 2 run confirmed that the car was running stellar. My fueling setup and current mods allow for running map 3 at 19psi, or even the race map at higher levels, but for now I'm looking for some dependability and longer life from my OEM turbochargers, so map 2 at 17psi running E40 fuel seems to be a nice balance for daily driving.

Now that the engine seemed to be healthy and running strong, I began looking at some other aspects of the car that I wanted to improve. The gear selection shift knob was swapped for the ZHP weighted version (had and loved this same knob in both of my E46 M3s) and the perforated leather emergency brake handle was upgraded to the OEM BMW Performance pearlescent version. I also added a bit of alcantara with the OEM BMW Performance performance shift knob boots for the shifter and emergency brake.


I also added a custom-fit black Canine Covers seat protector for the rear. The rear seat is way too small for most humans, but it's practically perfect for my border collie, Winston. This piece protects, covers everything, and is easily removable for washing.


He liked the 535i, but he loves the 135i.


Ever since I swapped the used dual cone filters from the 535i to the 135i, the dirty (even though they were clean) look had bothered me. I began researching for a filter colored similar to the amber output of the LUX angel eyes. What I found was that white, red, and black were about the only colors available. With the suggestions from another forum I took on the task of creating my own. A set of white BMS dual cone intakes, some Tangerine RIT liquid dye, and orange Green Filters oil resulted in the following look. Coupled with the Plasti-Dipped black ECU and brake covers, and rusty vacuum canister bracket, the engine bay is starting to come together nicely.




Stay tuned for more upgrades and maintenance related DIYs to come!

08-20-2016: As any N54 owner knows, carbon buildup is always a concern. Cleaning the valves on my 535i with around 120,000 miles on the odometer was an eye opening experience. Spending the better part of a day cleaning hard to reach places with an assortment of brushes and brake cleaner was not something I wanted to have to do anymore than absolutely necessary. I had always wanted to try the oil catch can setup from Burger Motorsports to try and stop some of this buildup, but after considerable research, it seemed as though my rather reserved and light-footed driving style wouldn’t result in catching much of anything. Valve cleanings were just something I was going to have to get used to doing more often than I would like. Seeing as how my newly acquired 135i just turned 60,000 on the odometer, this maintenance chore was already on the docket to be done very soon.

In the meantime, I had began to further investigate a more long-term solution which is when I discovered the RB External PCV/Dual Catch Can kit. These fittings and hoses would externalize the PCV system and catch any blow-by with an oil catch can. The benefits to this setup are plentiful and should help keep the valves much cleaner, keep the engine/turbos from smoking, and allow for easy dumping of the catch can contents if you purchased one.

At this point I went ahead and purchased the recommended Mishimoto 2-Port OCC as well as the full N54 OCC kit from Burger Motorsports. This would mean I would have both the low and high sides covered for oil blow-by. This should be the most effective solution at the moment to avoiding PCV related issues and the best at keeping those valves from gunking up prematurely. Total cost ended up being right at $500 for everything.


Some close-ups of the BMS OCC:



The external replacement for the current internal RB PCV valve I'm running now:


This Mishimoto seems to be really well built:



Instructions were to scrap the fittings supplied by Mishimoto and replace them with the RB heavy-duty versions:


The next task at hand is finding a clean, proper place to mount the catch cans.

08-28-2016: In the past, whenever I lower a car, I usually lose the spoiler. In my eyes, this provides a more aggressive stance and a sleeker appearance. In the case of the E82 135i trunk, the natural upward curvature mimics the E46 M3 CSL trunk. Took way too long to get all the leftover adhesive off after removing the wing. Also took the opportunity to replace my cracked third brake light.



09-01-2016: I had many learning experiences on my 535i over the years of ownership. One of which was a DIY intake valve cleaning using the soak and scrub method. Back when I did this prior, I was also forced to replaced the oil filter housing gasket, oil cooler gasket, and oil cooler o-rings because they were leaking. Seeing as how I had just turned 60,000 miles on this 135i, had collected all the necessary parts to externalize the PCV system and add in catch cans for the high and low sides, it seemed appropriate to set aside a full day to do this tedious task once more. Here are all my supplies laid out:
  • Brakleen
  • Gun cleaning kit with brass brushes
  • OEM oil filter housing gasket
  • OEM oil cooler gasket
  • OEM oil cooler o-rings
  • OEM thermostat to cylinder head hose


Since the intake manifold obviously has to be removed in order to clean the intake valves, and the gaskets surrounding the oil filter housing and cooler are prone to failure, replacing them seemed like the right thing to do in order to avoid removing all these parts again in the near future to access the gaskets. My 535i developed an aggressive oil leak because of the failure of one of these gaskets and made a mess everywhere; something I was definitely trying to dodge this time around. The first task at hand was starting to rip out the parts in the way of myself and those valves. Im getting pretty speedy and installing and removing all the N54 cold side parts at this point. A tip for anyone doing this: to remove the black box under the intake manifold simply grab each side of the box and pull upwards with some force. The tabs will bend and the box will slide off.

I purchased the thermostat to cylinder head hose to avoid being stuck with a car that wouldn't hold coolant. When I did this same job on the 535i, I removed the top of this hose connection so I could access one of the oil filter housing bolts, but when I went to put it back, the decomposing internals wouldn't allow a proper seal. This left me without wheels for a few days until the part came in. Fortunately this time I used an 8mm wrench on the oil filter housing bolt and was able to avoid removing the thermostat to cylinder head hose at all.


It wasn't long before I got my first glimpse at my valves that have been accumulating carbon buildup since 2008.


Cylinders 1-6 were all in need of a thorough bath. Lucky for me, as the car sat, 3 of the cylinders were fully closed. Here was my method for getting the job done and one that worked very well with minimal effort.
  • Place plenty of towels under the cylinder head ports to avoid making a big mess.
  • Fill the closed cylinder completely full with Brakleen.
  • Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • Using a syringe or turkey baster, remove some of the liquid so it doesn't spill out when scrubbing with a power drill.
  • Take the brass brush attachments and insert in a power drill.
  • Work every nook and cranny of the valves to agitate and remove any of the stubborn carbon not willing to let go.
  • Suck out as much of the leftover liquid as possible with your syringe/baster.
  • Using a shop vac with some 6mm vacuum hose duct taped on as an attachment, completely suck out the contaminated Brakleen (very little remaining so I wasn't worried about combustion in the shop vac).
  • Spray in a little more fresh Brakleen, and hit it with the brass brush one more time.
  • Vacuum out excess
  • Used a compressed air attachment to dry and blow out the completed and clean intake valve. 1 hour from start to finish on the first 3 valves.
  • Put the car in 6th gear, and roll the car frontwards or backwards to close the other valves. I was able to get 2 of the remaining 3 closed on the 2nd try, so I went ahead and filled those two.
  • Repeat all steps until the valves are clean.
Filling up an intake port to the brim with Brakleen is always nerve-racking the first few times:


In between scrubbing and waiting for the Brakleen to soak and penetrate the carbon buildup, I took the time to remove the difficult to navigate bolts holding on the oil filter housing and oil cooler attachments. I had to use a few different tools to access some of the hard to reach bolts on the bottom side. Pictures of this process were scarce at this point as I opted not to drain the oil and coolant beforehand, so keeping things clean was a struggle. New oil cooler gasket in:


The RB External PCV system includes some high quality parts. Here's a shot of the throttle body attachment that seated with a nice, satisfying click into place.


Much better.


I had originally intended to make a custom bracket that attached to the driver's side strut bar, but because of limited space due to the AC lines and cone intakes, I ordered another BMS OCC bracket to mount the Mishimoto. Now both cans are mounted in convenient areas, firmly attached to the strut bar, allow the attached hoses to sit in a relaxed position, and should be easy to empty. Pretty happy with the results.


6 hours of my time and $100 in supplies (not counting the RB External PCV, BMS OCC, and Mishimoto OCC of course) was all it took to have my valves looking fresh and brand new gaskets that should help stay in front of any future oil leaks from the usual fail points. On top of the peace of mind of knowing valves are clean and gaskets are replaced, the new catch can system should keep it that way for a while now. I will report back with my findings in the near future.

09-05-2016: Once I had adjusted some of the interior bits to my liking such as adding some alcantara boots, BMW performance knobs/handles, and deleting the armrest, there were a few more minor details I wanted to address. The first was adding the matching OEM BMW alcantara steering wheel trim piece to the shift boots. The original M-Sport model was peeling and becoming an eyesore.

The second was adding a full set of OEM BMW Performance pedals. I dislike working under the dash to begin with, so add in the pain of pushing the rubber through the aluminum slats and having to drill holes in place not conducive to fitting a cordless drill, this wasn't my favorite job, but the look is undeniable.


Here are a few more shots of the entire interior looking clean:


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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
After driving around the car for a few weeks with all the new power modifications and a healthy ignition/fuel system, it didn't take long before I started yearning for a subtle increase in exhaust volume; at least enough to match the sensational symphony of sounds coming from the intake side of things. At that point I began doing research for what I considered ideal for my daily driver. The fact that I was running catless downpipes meant that it would be very easy for me to overdo things and wind up with a droning setup that would drive me crazy on my morning and afternoon commutes. While a small increase in overall volume, crackles and pops was the ultimate goal, looks and being drone-free also played an important factor. Soon after starting my investigation I placed my order for the best option for me, the Maddad Whisper axleback with optional black ceramic coated 304SS tips.

Unfortunately it took over a month for the new piece to arrive despite no backorder, but Rich compensated me for the delays and I can understand having something custom built to order can take time. Once the exhaust arrived and I was able to see the build quality; it was water under the bridge. Some shots of the brand new exhaust unboxed:





The install went fairly smoothly. I hate dealing with spring bolts, but still had the OEM piece removed and the MadDad Whisper fitted up in a little over an hour.
My initial thoughts are:
  • The ceramic black tips are exactly what I was looking for
  • The weight is significantly lighter than the OEM piece
  • Fit and finish was spot on
  • Cold starts are noticeably louder
  • Quietens down quickly and sounds almost stock at idle
  • On an average drive, volume has probably increased 15-20% over stock
  • More pops and burbles on deceleration, as well as when the engine is free revved
  • NO DRONE at any RPM in any situation




Once the exhaust breaks in a bit, I'll update everyone with how I feel after a few months of daily driving with the new setup.

09-12-2016: The combination of the BMS catless downpipes, OEM N54 midpipes, and the Maddad Whisper axleback had produced nearly the exact sound I was looking for on all levels for my 1er. Subtle, aggressive, burbly and looked great out the rear diffuser. In an attempt to further fine tune the exhaust note and fitment, I had a few things I wanted to address. The first of which was to delete/replace the spring bolts (one of which was stripped during the initial axle back install despite using vice grips). The second was to replace the infamous bolt securing the midpipe bracket in place that was also stripped. The third was to adjust how high the Maddad Whisper tips sat; they were just a little too low for my liking. The last and most involved task at hand was to remove the midpipe, cut out the secondary cats, and weld in a pair of Vibrant 1790 bottle-style resonators in their place.


I chose to go this route over aftermarket midpipes or the N55 midpipe for the following reasons:
  • Most importantly, cost. Aftermarket midpipes are too expensive in my eyes and this setup was only $100 shipped for the pair of resonators.
  • My access to a welder/saw allows me to swap back in the factory secondary cats down the road if need be.
  • Looking to avoid drone/rasp at all costs, the N55 midpipe (essentially a straight pipe version of the N54 midpipe) is notorious for adding rasp.
  • This setup implements 3 total resonators (2x Vibrant 1790 + the large OEM one), which gives me my best chance with an aftermarket axleback and catless downpipes to keep rasp/drone/obnoxious volume at bay.
Removing the OEM midpipe was fairly straight forward. Despite only having 5,000 miles or so on the "bomb-proof" downpipe to midpipe gaskets and hardware, they were trash after removal. 2 of the 4 bolts connecting the midpipe to the downpipes sheared off. The close proximity to the turbos and extreme heat these bolts, nuts, and gaskets are exposed to just wreak havoc on their ability to be reused with any regularity.


Once I got past this small hiccup, I was able to fully remove the OEM midpipe so I could hack it up. The orientation of the secondary cats make welding in a straight piece of piping a little tricky. Fortunately the bottle-style design provides some additional room to resolve fitment issues.


While I have access to a nice MIG welder and gas, I hardly ever take advantage. Welding stainless steel to non-SS ended up being a little difficult considering my lack of experience, especially when I had some small gaps to fill because of the angles of the cuts associated with removing the secondary cats.


But I took my time, ensured everything sealed properly with no leaks or weak spots, and eventually the job was complete. I placed the secondary cats away for safe keeping in case I need to put them back in for some reason. OR I could probably find a scrap metal yard and break even on the purchase of the resonators. Again, not the prettiest welds but they will get the job done and sit well hidden under the car. Plenty of room when test fitted up in the exhaust tunnel. They actually sit even higher/tighter than the OEM secondary cats because they're smaller.


After I fitted the newly revised midpipe with resonators into place, I took this opportunity to do a few other things before tightening all the exhaust bolts, firing it up, and listening to the new snarl.

Working down my checklist of things to-do from the rear of the car to the front, I opened up the trunk area to install a set of recently acquired OEM LCI Blackline tailights.


This was a mod that I had been debating for the past few weeks. I didn't have any objection to the factory tailights, but after securing the Blacklines into place, these give the rear end a very updated look and the smoked shading looks great with the overall dark theme of the car.



To get the exhaust tips exactly where I wanted them, I used some simple worm clamps wrapped around the exhaust hangars (hidden out of view) to pull the tips up to the perfect placement. Now there is a uniform amount of space between the left, right, and top portions of the opening in the diffuser. Using slightly smaller bolts than the original holes, I then replaced the midpipe to axleback OEM shoulder bolts that had partially stripped during the initial axleback installation. Now the exhaust sits correctly, is tightened evenly on both sides, ensures a leak-free seal, and has a nut on the backside in place of the welded in version.


Moving forward, the next task was to address the bolt securing the midpipe bracket in place. This bolt is known for stripping easily and I was a victim of this while trying to tighten it into place during the re-installation. The tack welded square nut on the top side of the bracket had broken loose completely, so I was able to replace with a standard bolt/nut, which allowed for a much more secure fit than before.


As I mentioned previously, the heat of the downpipes coming off the turbos had deemed the gaskets/hardware unusable after I removed them to disconnect the midpipe. This led to a trip to a local part store to try the 9547 Felpro gaskets that only cost a few bucks each, are in stock at most stores, and have been proven to seal up just fine. I also picked up some new 10.9 hardware. Total cost was less than $10 for everything pictured below with no wait time.


Fit perfectly and absolutely no leaks.


While I was under the car with access to the tie rod ends, I also took this opportunity to remedy a problem I'd been having since my last alignment. Since getting the car back, it tracked perfectly straight, but the steering wheel was off center; sitting about 2 inches to the left. This bothered me to no end, especially considering how much time I spend in this car. Using this DIY I found, I put ramps under the front tires and loaded it up, loosened the tie rod bolts slightly, adjusted the tie rods by the same amount and voila, the steering wheel was sitting perfectly straight. Worked like a charm.

(Pictures borrowed from the thread linked above)



The last task at hand was to see how much oil had been accumulated by the BMS and Mishimoto oil catch cans after 500 miles of mostly highway use to see what I would be dealing with as far as catch can dumping intervals. The BMS can was bone dry, but then again, I've only went WOT once or twice since it was added so that was somewhat expected. The Mishimoto can attached to the RB External PCV however, had caught plenty. I'll double check this one again in a few thousands miles, but this confirms that I should be fine waiting until my 5,000 regular scheduled oil change intervals to worry about emptying the catch cans. Words cant explain how great I feel about keeping this gunk out of my intake tract.


While the car was still up on stands so I could check for leaks, it was time to fire it up and see what all the hard work I'd just done had resulted in. From underneath the car, I ensured that I was leak-free at both downpipe to midpipe connections, the welded seams at the newly added resonators, as well as the midpipe to axle-back connection. After verifying no air was escaping from any of the exhaust pipes, now it was time to soak in the new sound.

After a few drives, my initial impressions are:
  • Overall volume, if it could be quantified, is probably another 10% louder than setup I began this post with, and probably 25-30% louder than a full stock exhaust at this point.
  • Burbles on decel are increased and can only be described as intoxicating at this point.
  • Happy to report that still no drone or rasp at any RPM in any gear with the windows up or down.
  • WOT pulls through multiple gears are absolutely brutal -- so many sexy sounds.
  • Exhaust fumes have increased now that all four cats have been eliminated, but I've never been one to be bothered by catless fumes.
  • The catless downpipes, N54 midpipes with Vibrant 1790 resonators in place of the secondary cats, and the Maddad Whisper axleback produce EXACTLY what I was looking for.
09-15-2016: Some quick shots I took of the car on my evening ride home. I'm absolutely in love with how it looks, sounds and drives at the moment.



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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
09-19-2016: A few weeks ago I had the misfortune of cracking the screen on my iPhone 6 Plus. Although it was an unplanned expense, I decided to go ahead and pre-order the newly announced iPhone 7 Plus to replace it. This brought about a new obstacle. My previous setup consisted of my iPhone 6 Plus sitting in a Kenu Airframe vent clip, with the lightning charger and auxiliary cord plugged in. Seeing as how Apple went away from the headphone jack, I would no longer be able to access audio from my phone in that way. To remedy this, I headed to Amazon and purchased a highly rated Bluetooth receiver that attaches to the same auxiliary port plug-in and is powered by the built-in USB cord. This allows the receiver to automatically turn on and off with the ignition and automatically pair with my phone.

I had also become unimpressed with the stability of my phone while in the Kenu Airframe, so I began looking for a replacement to alleviate that annoyance. This would probably be necessary to do anyways as the colder months approach because of the fact that the phone blocks the vent and in the past, the heat hitting the rear of the phone has caused it to get too hot at times and power down.

After investigating the available options, I ended up ordering a Koomus CD cradle. This holder fits snugly into the CD slot (which I haven't ever used and don't plan on), is much easier to secure and remove the phone from, frees up space in front of the vents, and sits perfectly aligned towards the driver.


My setup now consists of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus sitting in the Koomus cradle taking care of audio, GPS, and handling the JB4 Mobile App. With the armrest deleted, I have easy access to all the ports and plug-ins sitting at the rear portion of the center console. I added a dual USB charger into the rear cigarette lighter, one of which holds the lightning cable to recharge my phone. The second port to the charger is occupied by the Bluetooth receiver and is also plugged into the auxiliary port. The entire Bluetooth receiver assembly is secured inside the back cover of the center console cover completely hidden out of view. The last and final port, the factory USB plug-in, is attached to the JB4 Bluetooth USB power cord (routed from the DME box, into the glove box, into the center console, and all the way back to where the USB plug is) so it turns on and off with the car.


As soon as I step in the car and activate the ignition, my phone automatically pairs with the factory Bluetooth capabilities to handle hands-free calling, automatically pairs with the JB4 Mobile App to keep an eye on the engine to provide live data and logging, and lastly, automatically pairs with the Bluetooth receiver to handle audio. Looks clean and covers all the functions I need my daily to have the ability to do.




Do not worry, some of these pictures were taken with the ignition off -- I can ensure the water temperature never reached 2250 degrees Fahrenheit.

10-17-2016: After installing Fuel-It's Stage 2 LPFP, which allowed me to increase the amount of ethanol I could run, I'd been mixing E85 with 93 octane at the pump. While I didn't mind the few extra minutes per fill-up, it always bothered me that I never knew exactly how much ethanol I was actually running. I even went as far to create a spreadsheet of different concentrations I could fill up with based on how much fuel I had remaining. But what if the concentrations straight from the pump had changed or weren't accurate, then what?

Fuel-It (and some others) had developed a way to keep a closer eye on exactly what ratio of ethanol a car was actually running. This was done via a Continental ethanol sensor and their ethanol analyzer. I had considered budget ways of doing the same thing with a homemade kit, but I was quickly reminded how much I'd enjoyed dealing with Fuel-It in the past, especially considering their install videos, plug & play components, and stellar reputation.

It was as this point I decided to go ahead and upgrade my fuel lines from the tank to the HPFP. This way I wouldn't have to hack up my OEM fuel lines (if for some reason I ever need to revert to stock), and I'd get a head-start on the ultimate goal of the future: single turbo. Whenever I add port injection, I'll already have some of the components installed (and purchased) which will help break up the costs. I also opted for the JB4 option on their analyzer so I can read the ethanol content using my JB4 Mobile app. As usual, Fuel-It stuff packaged well and properly labeled to make installation a breeze.



I watched the installation break-down videos made by Fuel-It prior to starting the install, so I had a good idea of what to expect along the way. As instructed, I began under the rear seat, disconnecting the power to the LPFP, starting the car, and allowing the car down to shut down from fuel starvation. This released the pressure from the line on the fuel-filter side. Unfortunately, when I removed the OEM fuel line, I did get sprayed a bit, but it quickly dissipated.


At this point, I had to get the car in the air and the bottom plastic panels removed to gain access to the lines. Once the OEM fuel line was removed from the four brackets, it was time to pull the line down from the tank and snake the Fuel-It replacement line up to the fuel filter side of the tank. After a few tries, I successfully routed the larger diameter line up to the fitting. From there, it connected to the fuel filter easily.


Back underneath the car, I continued removing the OEM fuel line (the blue line).


Since I opted for the complete fuel line replacement from tank to HPFP, I would have to remove some components to gain access. After the filters, charge pipe, throttle body, and black box underneath were removed, I removed the OEM fuel line and replaced it with the Fuel-it upgrade. I greased the fitting, added the appropriate clip, and slid on the larger diameter line. It's also worth noting that Fuel-it provided all the zip ties, grease, clips, etc. to do the job correctly.


Now I turned my concentration back under the car to where I'd be mounting the ethanol sensor. Using the provided bolt, the Continental sensor mounted up perfectly. From there, both sides of the fitting were greased, and each of the Fuel-It replacement lines were connected. With the fantastic looking Fuel-It ethanol analyzer plugged in, and wiring routed over towards the DME box, wiring the analyzer in was the lone remaining task. The fit and finish of everything once mounted was definitely up to my standard.


Wiring up the electronics proved to be light work as well. With the harness side of the JB4 removed, I plugged in the provided wire into pin 15 (for the N54), tapped into the power wire, and grounded the analyzer to the closest strut tower bolt. Again, Fuel-It provided all the necessary wires, connectors, and zip ties. Even extras in case you managed to mangle some. You can also see how I have my G5 ISO board sitting so the lid closes easily without issue, as well as the strut bolt I used for the ground.


I then reinstalled all the removed components, primed the fuel pump a few times by turning on the ignition, and started the car while still up on jack stands. I quickly checked all the connections to make sure there were no leaks, which there were none. Now that the upgraded lines had been confirmed as installed correctly, it was time to test that I had wired the analyzer up properly.

I activated the ethanol feature on my JB4 app, set meth scaling to 100, and set E-Content to display as one of 5 gauges. I'm not a fan of the new futuristic theme, so I continue to use this one. Would be really nice to get a theme that matched the OEM gauges closely. I then connected to the car, and confirmed that the past few hours of work hadn't been a waste. And already proving useful as I thought I had been running E40. The new sensor confirmed I was actually running E43.


  • Fuel-It products are top notch.
  • I now have a live reading of ethanol content viewable through my JB4 Mobile App that I connect to using Bluetooth.
  • I've successfully split up some of the cost of eventually going single turbo down the road.
10-30-2016: A few months back I was scanning some saved searches on eBay (as I often do because of my day job) when I ran across a poorly described listing advertising for a BMW diffuser listed as a "Buy It Now" option for $350. From what I could gather from the owner of the listing, the negatives were that the diffuser had some minor cracking and clear coating issues in a few different places. The positives were that this was an OEM BMW Performance piece in full carbon fiber, had all tabs intact, and was cheap. As I usually do on eBay, I offered him lower than he was asking and by the time it was over I was the proud owner of this diffuser for $250 including shipping.

Within a few days, I had the diffuser in hand. Sure enough, the diffuser was indeed authentic.


After seeing the extent of the damage in person and seeing that the majority of the unsightliness was a result of flaking clear coat, I made the decision to try to repair the diffuser, carefully sand down the damaged areas, and reapply another coat of clear. Before attempting to do some of the touch-up work myself, I had a chance encounter with a business acquaintance of mine that does some body work for our company. In between doing small jobs, he managed to squeeze in some time to see what he could do for my diffuser. The finished product looked much better than what I initially received, looks good enough that I'll probably keep the carbon fiber look for the time being, and cost me $0.

This piece definitely sharpens up the view from the rear and for a total of $250 invested, is hard to beat. The OEM E82 diffuser was removed in less than 5 minutes and the OEM BMW Performance diffuser in carbon fiber installed in less than 5 minutes. No fitment issues, no fuss.





11-06-2016: Took the time this afternoon to perform a routine oil change as I turned over 65,000 miles this past weekend. As some added insurance, I will be following 5,000 intervals while I own the car. I also took this opportunity to replace the OEM oil drain plug with the Dimple Plug I recently picked up -- definitely interested to see what this has collected over the next 5,000 miles.



11-19-2016: After purchasing this mint condition 2008 BMW 135i back in late May with 54,000 miles on the odometer, I know find myself 6 months into ownership after turning 66,000 miles earlier this week.

Within those 6 months, I became very well acquainted with my new obsession. I documented every mod, repair, and preventative maintenance along the way in my build thread (which is linked in my signature). Some of these experiences were brought upon myself, and others forced.

The difference between the day I drove this car home and the car I drive today is immense. My modified version of the E82 135i not only looks menacing in stance, exterior improvements, and color scheme, but it sounds and plays the part well. Every opportunity I could find this spring, summer and fall to fully lower the windows, I took. The stereo was powered off, and still, the soundtrack never got old. Driver's side upgraded inlets, an ER charge pipe equipped with an HKS BOV, a fully catless and resonated exhaust finished off with a Maddad Whisper axleback provided a sensational combination of sounds no matter the driving situation. The BMS clutch stop, ZHP weighted knob, and CDV delete had made operating the 6-speed transmission far more precise and easier to operate every day. What used to be a loose, uninspiring handle was quickly remedied with a slightly lower stance complete with Koni shocks, wider wheels, and more rubber. Aesthetic interior mods, aero parts, and blackout accents brought everything full circle.

Some quick, stream of thought pros and cons:

: For the money, the complete package can't be beat. The power, the looks, the overall build quality is pretty great. I invested $16,500 initially, and probably closer to $21,000 the way it sits now. With somewhere in the neighborhood of 450HP/475TQ on tap, and the ability to easily add a bit more down the road, there's not another car I would ever consider at the present moment for my wants and needs. That's something I've only been able to say once before in my life. The ride is great. This suspension setup is super street-able every day and most of the time I forget how low to the ground this car really is. Car gets great gas mileage, obviously much better with 93 than with high E85 blends. Transmission is both challenging and satisfying. It took me longer than most cars to get a full grasp of the engagement points, rev matching points, and heel toe positions, but now nailing, seamlessly smooth shifts is really rewarding. My girlfriend is not a car enthusiast in the slightest, but she can't seem to tell any differences between the stock version of the 135i I originally purchased and how it sits now; which is a big win in my book. The sport seats are the best I've ever had the pleasure of sitting in and keep my frame perfectly aligned behind the wheel. Mod-ability is great. If I get bored there's always something to tinker with, DIY repair is fairly straightforward, and the platform only seems to be growing.

Cons: Cost of parts, mostly OEM repair related. Aftermarket parts, some of which I've purchased used, didn't really break the bank, but a complete set of index 12 injectors plus coding software wasn't fun to buy unexpectedly. OEM radio is subpar, and mine suffers from pixelation loss when left in any kind of heat for an extended period. Knowing my water pump and thermostat will leave me stranded more than likely over the year and will cost another $500 plus my weekend isn't comforting. I'm now on my second 3rd brake light that I'll need to replace because of cracking. Coming from a car with heated seats and steering wheel, not having either in the 135i is already sorely missed even though it's only November. My brakes squeak under light braking and always have despite having plenty of pad, no debris stuck between the pad and rotor, etc. Dual mass flywheel is noisier than I'd like.

As you can see, the cons are practically nonexistent compared to the pros. This car has my heart and will for the foreseeable future. And I used to think only M cars had soul. I was able to capture one last photo in front of the fall foliage before we fade into Winter here in North Carolina. It's been an absolute pleasure thus far!

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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
12-05-2016: Around the same time I began my search for an OEM BMW Performance carbon fiber diffuser, I also began searching for a set of OEM BMW Performance side skirts in Jet Black. They took a little longer to track down in used condition since I was looking for a particular color, but my hard work eventually paid off and I saved a few bucks off purchasing new and having them painted.


Installation was simple, straightforward, and took less than an hour to install both.


Each of these small aesthetic additions, although subtle on their own, have done wonders as a whole for the overall look.



12-18-2016: Over the past few weeks I've been collecting parts to address my paint correction needs. I haven't given the paint much love since taking ownership earlier this year, and judging by the infinite amount of swirls, the previous owners haven't either. In direct sunlight, it nearly makes me cringe.




After mulling over how to approach correcting the paint, it came down to paying a professional or staying true to myself and just learning how to do it myself. A few weeks of research here and there, a few hours lost to YouTube tutorials, and some time on Amazon, and here's what I came up with for my Jet Black paint:
BMW touch up paint, small brushes, and IPA to correct some paint chips I have around the car.


Meguiar's D300 on a Griot's Garage fast cutting microfiber pad, followed by Meguiar's 205 on a Griot's Garage orange correcting pad, and finished off with Blackfire Wet Diamond on a Griot's Garage red waxing pad.


and a Griot's Garage 6 inch random orbital to do the grunt work:


I've also picked up some other miscellaneous items to assist along the way like clay, quick detailer, leather cleaner, plenty of microfiber towels, a pad brush, pad conditioner, and some Jet Black touchup paint that I'll be applying a week or so prior to undertaking the full detail.

If my research serves me well, I should probably set aside an entire weekend, morning until night, split over at least two days.

12-22-2016: A small follow up on the RB External PCV system that I have installed:
It's been about 3,500 miles and a full month since I last checked my Mishimoto OCC connected to the RB External PCV system. Even though I thought I could easily make it the full 5,000 miles between oil changes before emptying my catch can (the first week of driving that I had the can installed, I only collected about 10% of the total capacity), I decided to play it safe. After my commute to work, I fully let the car cool down, and then pulled off the Mishimoto OCC to check what the system had prevented from going into my intake tract.

Whoa! Nearly completely full. The lower temperatures and mounting spot away from a heat source probably accounts for the weird consistency and coloring. The bottom portion of the can was a snotty, gunky mess. I ended up spraying the Mishimoto can out with degreaser and gave it a quick cleaning -- looks brand new again.


It looks like I should probably start checking every 2,000 miles or so from here one out just to be safe. Absolutely incredible how much this thing is catching!

01-07-2017: With no garage for this daily driver, that means exposure to the elements on a very regular basis. In the winter in North Carolina, that also occasionally means snow. It pains me to see her sitting out in the below freezing temperatures with white powder piling up on the bonnet, but that's okay, it'll only toughen her up for the new long, hard life of constant usage she's been sold into.
Wth all the salt and debris that will be on the road for the next few weeks, the full detail I had in store for this 1er may be pushed back until spring rolls around.



01-15-2017: Once again, my oil had reached the newly imposed 5,000 mile limit and called to be replaced. Along with my oil change, I also wanted to replace the manual transmission fluid given the fact I'd just clicked over the 70,000 mark. Chances are that the fluid in the transmission before the change was the original manufacturer's fill from 2008.

Supplies for these two tasks included 7 liters of OEM oil, the appropriate oil filter and o-rings, Redline D4 ATF fluid, plastic tubing, and the 8mm hex to remove the transmission fill plugs.


A few things to note:
  • Love the BMS oil filter removal tool -- makes oil changes simple and clean.
  • The Dimple Plug that I had used in the oil pan for the past 5,000 miles had zero metal particles when removed.
  • Only 2,000 miles after last cleaning out the Mishimoto OCC connected to the external RB PCV system, I decided to play it safe and check again. Sure enough, the can was equally as full as the picture I posted a few weeks back and definitely warranted emptying again. Perhaps weekly checks are necessary during the cold weather and condensation.
  • The BMS OCC is still bone dry after being installed 10,000 miles ago. As I've mentioned before though, only been WOT probably 4-5 times in that period. Just a lot of commutes to work and back. Perhaps this is the reason as I've triple checked my installation and everything looks good.
  • The old fluid drained out very quickly because of the viscosity and was definitely dark in color.
  • When installing the new Redline fluid using the gravity fed method, I made a huge (smelly) mess. The 3/8" ID plastic tubing didn't fit properly inside any of the funnels I had, which made taping the connection shut with duct tape a pain. It also took considerably long than I anticipated as I waited for the new fluid to slowly drain from the funnel down the tubing and into the transmission upper fill plug.
  • First impressions are smoother engagement of gears when cold and less effort when shifting. I went with this over the other Redline options for that very reason. I see a large range of temperatures over the course of 12 months and my car has to brave the elements. The D4 ATF seemed to fit the bill more than their other options.

When changing the oil on two N54s at once (also did my 535i that just hit 185,000 miles), the liters of oil really add up.


Nothing on the docket for the rest of the winter. Just planning on enjoying and driving the car for the next few months, hopefully with no issues!

02-01-2017: This past week I finally bit the bullet and, despite having zero issues thus far with my water pump at nearly 72,000 miles of use, purchased a replacement Continental water pump, e-thermostat, and a gallon of BMW branded coolant. While it's never fun paying $500+ for preventative maintenance, especially when the parts are still fully functional, I forced myself to be realistic about my existing pump's lifespan. Even though my car almost exclusively sees highway expeditions of over 50 miles at a clip, there's no reason to think that I will get a ton more usage before I get the dreaded overheating warning.

When the water pump went out around 70,000 miles on my 535i (before the days of Uber/Lyft), I was on the way to an appointment, had no alternative transportation, and had my entire day ruined.

The next step is planning when to do the job. I'd love to wait until Spring when I can coincide this with tearing down the car for the full paint correction I've been plotting, but at my current mileage the pump is a ticking time bomb until it fails and leaves me stranded. While this is something I'll continue to ponder, Winston and I are glad to have the parts on hand just in case.


02-01-2017: I finally got around to doing something earlier today that I'd been meaning to do ever since purchasing the car last year -- and that was making the dreaded trip to the local dealership. Unlike most other times, this wasn't for any issue with my own car, or because I wanted to browse the inventory. I'd read a few times prior that the service department could read your key fob in order pull all service records for a vehicle.

This information would let me know what exactly had been attended to by BMW in the car's first few years, as well as confirming what the prior owner claimed had been replaced.

I happened to be assisted by someone who proved to be very helpful in gathering this information for me, and although I wasn't allowed to keep a printed copy of the information, she did allow me to snap a picture with my phone to put with my records. I quickly thanked her and hit the road.

This snapshot from BMW, coupled with a CarFax I recently pulled, gives me most of the complete history of the 135i I bought 8 years after it had been sold new after previously relying solely on the word of the previous owner.






Here is a time line of events and things I found noteworthy:
  • Purchased new in Florida by the first owner, where it was kept and barely driven apparently.
  • From October 28th, 2008 until May 11th, 2010, the car was driven less than 5,000 miles.
  • HPFP and injectors (not sure of how many) were replaced in March of 2011 with 6,199 miles on the odometer, a very low mileage to have problems with those already (could show indication that early injectors failed because of time and not mileage).
  • Third brake light needed replacing for the first time in September of 2011 with 7,501 miles.
  • The first owner held the car for a little over three years, and sold it to the second owner (whom I purchased from).
  • The second owner, just as he had told me, purchased the car from Carmax with 7,665 miles in late 2011 and registered the car in Virginia.
  • Going back to the first owner, from October 28th, 2008 until July 5th, 2012, the car was driven less than 14,000 miles. Service records indicate that fluids were changed typically annually instead of mileage intervals.
  • Fuel pressure sensor was replaced in 2012 with 12,564 miles on the odometer.
  • Again as indicated by the previous owner, the tires were replaced in January of 2014 with the Michelin PSS rubber that was all used up when I received the car over two years later.
Besides re-registering the vehicle and the airbag recall, apparently the previous owner (which at this point I have no reason to not believe) had zero problems mechanically and had a local indy shop do all the oil changes every 7,500 miles until the car was sold to me with 53,677 miles on the odometer.

All the records indicate that the 2nd owner was completely truthful and transparent with his full knowledge of the car's history, which bodes well for how he claimed he cared and drove the car, which he described as meticulous and precise. It feels nice to confirm what I already knew, as well as find out some new things, about my car's full history. I can also stop second guessing whether I'm still on the original water pump, e-thermostat, belts, tensioners, etc. as now I know these have not been replaced since being assembled at the factory.

03-11-2017: As winter continues to wane, the warmer months here in North Carolina will be here soon and I'm already making preparations. The full machine correction on the exterior paint has been months in the works; just a matter of finding the right weekend to do it. I have also known for a while now that I'm running on borrowed time (over 70,000 miles) as far as my water pump goes, so along with the OEM replacement water pump, e-thermostat, and coolant that I got in a few weeks back, I recently added the u-shaped hose as well just to be on the safe side.


Soon after collecting all the supplies needed for these jobs, I made the decision to free up some space as well as collect some extra modding funds by selling all the parts I had removed since taking ownership. At this point there were quite a few. This helped alleviate some of the costs associated with the next round of enhancements I had sitting in an ECS wish list.

In addition to the paint correction and water pump jobs, two serious future time commitments, I added even more time in the garage when I pulled the trigger on the following:
  • Side skirt splitters from FMXOMAR
  • Ikon Motorsports front lip
  • Made arrangements to have my calipers rebuilt and powder coated a different color
  • The ECS Performance front/rear service kit complete with 2 piece drilled/slotted front rotors, GEOMET drilled/slotted rear rotors, front/rear Hawk HPS pads, pad sensors and new installation hardware
  • ECS stainless steel brake lines
  • The ECS Brake Fluid flush kit complete with Schwaben bleeder, bottles, wrench, and 1 liter of Pentosin Super DOT4 brake fluid
  • OEM front belt kit complete with upper idler pulley, lower idler pulley, accessory belt tensioner and accessory belt
  • Two five liter bottles of Motul X-Cess 5W-40 (I finally made the decision to switch from the OEM oil I've been using for years) and a Mann oil filter kit
  • A set of colder NGK plugs (going to give these a try over the OEM plugs since it's getting close to change interval)
  • Bosch wiper blades
As these parts trickle in over the next few weeks, I'll update this thread. This round of mods should round the car out nicely aesthetically as well as ensuring I won't fall victim to any of the usual culprits that cause issues mechanically. After all of this, a single turbo may be the last task left to tackle before calling it a day.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
03-19-2017: As I touched on in my previous post, I recently made a rather large order. Over the past week, some of those items have been delivered, opened up and inspected, and then added to the ever-growing pile of parts in the corner of my garage.

Some specialty tools for the upcoming jobs:



Some maintenance items: Motul engine oil, new NGK plugs, and a new front belt/pulley system.



Complete brake system replacement components: 2-piece ECS front rotors, 1 piece GEOMET rear rotors, Hawk HPS pads, ECS SS lines, and Pentosin fluid.





And last for now, the front lip from Ikon Motorsports. The polyurethane looks very durable, but the finish could probably use a simple coat of black paint -- it comes unfinished. I'll decide that once I can test mount the lip to the front bumper. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what I've been looking for though.




03-26-2017: After months of preparation, the time had come to embark on the installation of the next round of mods I’d accumulated. The first order of business was to get the car in the air. With the lowered stance, even with a low-profile jack, getting the car up in the air is a time consuming affair. I can only imagine that when the new aero parts are bolted into place that this will only become more challenging.



Wheels off to expose the before picture of the stock brake system.



Now, time to unpack all these parts I’ve accumulated.



As recommended by a fellow forum member, I decided to give the non-friction part of the rear rotors a blast of high-temp black paint to match the 2-piece look of the fronts. Prepared them with a little tape, three coats of paint and voila! I also gave the dust shields and caliper brackets a fresh coat of high temp black.




The old hardware came off without too much fuss, thanks to a few YouTube videos for clarification. Old sensors, pads, and rotors were tossed – calipers were packed up and shipped out for powder coasting and rebuilding. Then I went ahead and connected the new sensors, mounted the rotors and positioned the ECS stainless lines. Visually, I’m very impressed. The new calipers should really make everything pop.




Next on the agenda was to begin the process of the water pump replacement. This was taken after removing the air ducting. The red circle encompasses a hard plastic hose that gave out on my 535i at 150,000 miles. This line became brittle and eventually cracked, spewing coolant all over the engine bay. To avoid future problems and a mess to clean up, I’ll be locating a more robust solution while the coolant has been drained.


Radiator fan out. Surprisingly easy, although I’d already done it when installing the front MMP inlet.


And some glory shots of said MMP inlets (I’ve also added this to my original post). As you can see, my tangerine tinted BMS filters haven’t held up to the test of time. Oh well—they sure looked good when they were new! Perhaps a black filter would look better.



The water pump replacement job got messy quickly, so pictures were minimal during removal. The Bavarian Autosport video on YouTube was very helpful for reference. Some of the clearances were very tight, but with some patience and the right tools, I was able to remove the old hardware and drain the majority of the coolant.



I’ll be saving installation of the new water pump components, as well as the rest of the mods, over the next few weeks so stay tuned.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
03-29-2017: Over this past weekend I was able to get the old water pump and thermostat removed, so today I picked up where I left off and started to install the new hardware. Within the first hour of being under the car, I had the new pieces bolted into place and all the associating hose clamps and quick disconnect hoses tightened down. My old unit was not Continental branded, but had showed no signs of slowing down despite having over 70,000 miles of use (mostly highway since I've owned the car).


Prior to adding coolant, I wanted to address some other weak points of the cooling system.


The first of which was finding a better solution for BMW's thin, plastic radiator vent hose that had made a mess in my 535i. My solution was some 1/4" ID fuel hose, a few 1/4" ID brass barbed fittings, and 4 small hose clamps.




I also chose to replace the hose that connects from the top of the thermostat housing to the engine block, another problem area I had on my 535i. The old one I removed actually looked pretty good and the integrated o-ring was still intact, but while I had easy access, better safe than sorry.


Now it was time to add the coolant, so I took my jug of OEM BMW coolant, and made two gallon jugs of 50/50 coolant and distilled water mixtures.


Added a battery charger, unscrewed the coolant cap, removed the bleeder screw and added nearly 1.75 gallons of coolant before it started to come out of the screw hole. At that point, I added the bleeder screw back, replaced the coolant cap, and entered the car. Ignition on, hottest temperature setting, lowest fan setting, accelerator pedal down for 10 seconds and the automatic bleeding process began. 10 or 15 minutes later and the process was complete. I added a bit more coolant and the job was complete.


While I had access, this is when I chose to swap out the pulleys and belt. I was a bit intimidated by this job before looking into exactly what was involved, but I was surprised at how quickly I had everything replaced -- less than an hour.


The calipers reached their destination yesterday and the powder coating and rebuilding process has began. Hopefully I'll have them back by early next week and can get the pads and calipers back into place. This weekend I plan to begin the paint correction process, get the front lip mounted, as well as the side skirt splitters that arrived this afternoon.



04-02-2017: I was able to sneak off for a few hours today and mess around with the side skirt extensions that I received earlier this week. I chose to mount them pretty close to the car, with only a few inches showing to give the car a widened stance in the right places and add a little more depth to the OEM BMW Performance Side Skirts that I paired them with.

I ended up sourcing my own hardware to secure the extensions, did not use any type of tape, and did not utilize any of the stock location hex key plastic bolts along the underside of the side skirt. These are mounted rock solid and aren't going anywhere. Total installation took a couple hours taking my time and was much quicker on the second side.


Here are a few shots following final mounting -- more to come when I get the lip installed, brakes on, and the car cleaned up.



04-03-2017: While the car has been up on jack stands for the past week and a half, I made the decision to pick up a set of Apex wheel studs and lug nuts to replace the OEM lug bolts. I made a similar switch on my E46 M3 and loved the ease of mounting wheels using the studs in comparison to the bolts.

These are the 75mm M12 BMW 5 Lug Hex Head Stud Kit in Black. A little red Loctite, and using the 5mm hex socket I picked up off Amazon, they were installed this afternoon. Looking forward to utilizing these when I re-mount the ARC-8s here later this week.



04-08-2017: I had a chance to spend my Saturday morning and part of the afternoon, while watching the Masters on a nearby TV, to get some more stuff done on the 1er. First up was reassembling the rest of the car. I re-installed the radiator fan, hooked up all the connections, and completed bolting in the front air ducts. Before getting ready to clean up the engine bay completely and prepare for the brake fluid flush, I wanted to get the OEM spark plugs (with about 15,000 miles of use) out and try the new NGK plugs I recently picked up.


It took some adjustment on each, but eventually were all gapped to the recommended 0.022 point.


With the BMS spark plug tool and an extension, removing and re-installing spark plugs is simple.

After reinstalling the engine cover, I adjusted the positioning of my catch cans and even fabricated a more sturdy mount for the Mishimoto can using additional small hex bolts. Now everything sits just as it should, the lines are perfectly relaxed, and the Mishimoto can (which needs frequent dumping) is situated ideally for unscrewing.
I also retightened the hose clamps holding on my DCI. I had taken them with me the last visit to garage, cleaned them, re-dyed them graphite with Rit, and re-oiled them. The new color goes great with the rest of the engine bay.



Now the only thing left to do under the hood is hook up the pressure bleeder to the brake fluid reservoir when my calipers are delivered next week. With the hood closed, I replaced the wiper blades with OEM units; about a 30 second job.


I also began the first stage of my paint correction process -- claying the car. This took quite a while as I'm pretty sure this car had never been introduced to a clay bar before. I'm glad I had about 6 large pieces and plenty of quick detailer on hand.


I also examined my wheels and tires prior to the eventual cleaning and wax they'll receive soon. All those spokes do not look fun, but should make cleanings going forward much easier. More good news - the Hankook V12s are showing hardly any wear and no funky wear patterns. I've really been enjoying them thus far.


After completion it was time to call it quits and catch the leaders making the turn in Augusta. Right before I left, something arrived that foreshadows the future of this spoiled 1er. An OEM BMW 3.5 BAR TMAP sensor, indicative of the higher PSI levels a new set of turbos will see this summer, and possibly this set of stockers in the meantime. I'm still waiting on the BMS adapter to arrive. More to come!

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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
04-12-2017: Now that I had taken care of all the mechanical things I wanted to address, and the brake calipers weren't being delivered back to me until tomorrow, it was time to continue on the progress I made with the clay bar treatment and move right into the paint correction itself; something I've never done before I should probably mention.

Tearing into into all the new detailing gear I'd had stashed away for the past few months felt great. After giving the car another wipe down with these fantastic Chemical Guys microfiber towels and quick detailer, it was time to set up the Griot's Garage 6 inch random orbital. I grabbed a Griot's black Microfiber cutting pad and thoroughly coated the new pad with some Meguiar's D300 Correction Compound.


I added 6 more dots of the compound, added a few sprays of pad conditioner and headed over the trunk area for my very first pass ever.


I started with the top portion of the trunk and split it up into two sections so I could have a side by side comparison. Using the methods I saw in many of the how-to videos, and utilizing some of the tips I'd taken note of, I embarked on my first real detail using something other than hand-applied wax. I was surprised at how simple, satisfyingly soothing, and time-consuming this ordeal would be as a whole, but it was hard to deny the results after just a few passes.


90% of the imperfections, including practically all of the swirl marks were eliminated completely. I was a little surprised to find that the hard rain spots were proving the hardest to get out, and many just wouldn't with any of the combination of pads/polishes I had on hand.


Along with the surface scratches that covered the entire car, there were a few other things that had always bothered me about the paint on this vehicle. The first were the outline marks that were left behind when I eliminated the 135i emblem and deck lid spoiler. Note the difference in scratches between the top of the deck lid that has seen a few passes of D300 and everywhere else.


An awful fingerprint smudge above the door handle on the passenger side that just would not come out.


Again, the D300 made light work of all the outline marks as well as the smudge. The hood, being large and relatively flat, was a welcomed sight as it meant that the first stage of my three stage paint correction was coming to an end. Again, here's a hood comparison when I was half way through.


At this point I was pretty tired, but not ready to throw in the towel yet. I grabbed an orange cutting pad and paired it with some Meguiar's 205 Ultra Finishing Polish and repeated what I'd just done with the D300.


It took nearly eight hours to leisurely do this, change pads (I used three of each pad in the first two stages), keep everything wiped down with quick detailer and free of dust, document with pictures, fire off a few emails/texts, change the podcast, grab a drink, etc. Even without applying any of the Blackfire Wet Diamond yet, the results are impressive for only completing 2 of the 3 planned stages.


Plans for this weekend include:
  • Mounting up calipers and installing new pads
  • Attaching new ECS SS lines to the calipers
  • Bleed out old brake fluid and replace with Pentosin Super DOT 4
  • Mount front lip
  • Complete the third stage of the paint correction -- Blackfire Wet Diamond
  • Start car for the first time in nearly a month and check for any leaks
  • Go bed brakes and enjoy new (hopefully squeak free) stopping power
The brake calipers I sent off two weeks ago finally arrive back with me tomorrow and I can't wait to share what they've transformed into. I've only seen some quick pictures in poor lighting before they were boxed up for shipping, but I think I'll be happy with the final results.

04-14-2017: Yesterday afternoon I finally got my hands on the key component to my complete overhaul of the brake system: the OEM Brembo calipers I'd shipped off a few weeks back.

I first contacted Josh at Detective Coatings a few months ago to begin preparations for this latest tear down. He was more than helpful from beginning to end, and we first began by discussing pricing for his services. For $500 (not including shipping in either direction), all four calipers would be disassembled, stripped, powder coated a color of my choice, and rebuilt with new seals and dust boots. I sent the money, scheduled the time within a few days of when I'd be sending them (he ordered the rebuild kit at this time), and settled on Illusion Red for the color. I hoped the final result would be resemble the same red found on the Blackline taillights.

Fast forward a month and the car was up on stands and I had the old brake system off the car. I quickly packed up the calipers and got them shipped out to Savannah, Georgia from my location in North Carolina the very next morning. Josh confirmed delivery the next day and he began work.

A few days after that I get an email saying we have a problem. As Josh and I soon discovered, these OEM calipers have pistons that have ceramic inserts. The problem is these ceramic inserts warp over time because of heat and use, leaving them unusable when rebuilding.

These aren't my pictures, but for reference:




Since we hadn't thought to order replacement pistons, now we were left trying to locate a set. After some research and a bit of calling around for pricing comparisons, we located a full replacement set in all aluminum from Stoptech. The only downside -- an additional $355. At this point I was in at $855 plus shipping both ways.
Although this was a bit more than I had budgeted just for the calipers, they were now fully rebuilt with upgraded, brand new parts and when I pulled them out of the box yesterday upon arriving home from work, they certainly put a smile on my face.
I can't wait to bolt these up, bleed the system, mount up my ARC-8s, and get my 1er off jack-stands and on the road again. But until then, let's appreciate the beauty of Josh's work.







04-15-2017: This morning I was able to carve out some time to finish up the exterior detail. This last stage consisted of breaking open that bottle of Blackfire Wet Diamond that I'd been yearning to use. Even the smell was intriguing. I added some to a red waxing pad from Griot's Garage and starting applying a layer over the entire car.


The directions said to spread a thin coat on speed setting 3 across the entire paint surface, and to buff out with a microfiber once the sealant had developed a haze. I broke the car down into 4-5 portions and would wipe clean after I got through spreading the next. Before too long the deed was done and my first full paint correction was complete -- about 12 hours in all. Here's a few quick shots until I get the car back on the ground and outdoors with all the new equipment.


Not too bad for a first timer...


I also laid down a few coats of black trim spray over the raw polyurethane of the front lip that will be getting mounted up soon.


It's not clear yet whether or not I'll be able to get the brakes re-assembled and re-installed this weekend, but I will keep everyone updated!
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
04-20-2017: With my first full paint correction behind me, it was now time to move on to re-assembling all the brake components; the last task standing between me and getting my so-called daily driver back on the road. I'd already mounted the new rotors and mocked up the ECS SS exact-fit lines, so I began to put together the calipers with new pads and hardware.


Starting with the rears I grabbed the Hawk HPS pads with built in shims. I did quite a bit of research as to whether or not to keep the OEM shims on top of the integrated Hawk shims, and only gathered a bunch of conflicting information. Hawk states not to re-use, but a lot of users claim clunks and other noises attributed to the pad moving around a bit. I decided to re-use the rears to avoid this. Unfortunately I threw away the OEM pads on the front without prying off the OEM shims first, so I was forced to install the fronts with the Hawk HPS integrated shims only. I hadn't heard as much complaints seemingly about the fronts making noise, but only time will tell. I used the included grease on all contact points, and then the visible excess clean once assembled.


Cleaned up all the hardware with a wire brush because I couldn't imagine putting filthy hardware back on these gorgeous calipers.


I took my sweet time re-assembling everything as to ensure no problems once I was finished. I also attached the ECS SS exact-fit lines while they were on the bench.




The fronts went on easily, as did the rears. Whoa -- what a visual upgrade at the very least! I had to take a few shots as I took in the new view.



Next it was time to hook up the pressure bleeder and bleed all four corners. This sounded simple in theory, but would be far more difficult than I had originally anticipated for a few different reasons.

I'm usually one to completely plan out an install before taking it on, but for whatever reason, I was oblivious to the amount of air that I would have enter the system by removing the calipers and letting the fluid slowly drain out over the next few weeks. I assumed I'd be replacing the lines and hardware along with completely flushing out the system, so it wouldn't matter.

The first red flag came when I opened the brake reservoir after connecting all the new lines and calipers to emptiness. I still wasn't worried as I figured I would be flushing the system anyways. At this point I quickly realized that the one liter of Pentosin Super Dot 4 was absolutely not going to be enough to do a complete flush. Luckily my local Autozone had a few more liters on hand, so I quickly made the trip down the road and picked up the last two they had in stock to have on hand.
I filled the brake fluid reservoir, which took nearly an entire liter. Once that was at the max-fill line, I added a good amount of Pentosin Super DOT 4 to the inside of the pressure bleeder, attached the Euro fitting to the reservoir, and pumped the pressure up to 15psi.


Using the routine bleeding pattern, I went to the passenger side rear wheel and attached the bleeder bottle. The rubber nipple slid securely over the bleeder valve and left plenty of access the 11mm nut for opening/closing.


I crack open the rear bleeder screw and nothing. I double check all the connections, while the bleeder screw is open and the pressure bleeder is pressurized and still nothing. Eventually I get a little trickle of fluid. Same with the driver's side rear caliper. Over the next few hours I went to each wheel trying a combination of dry bleeding, pressurized bleeding, and standard two person bleeding. I eventually got the fronts bled with no air bubbles and plenty of flow coming through the drain tube, but no dice with the rears, especially the passenger side rear. Pedal feel eventually got decent, but as soon as the car started, it would become intermittent to the point where I wasn't comfortable doing a road test.

I removed the ECS line and bleeder screws to ensure the lines were free of any debris and confirmed the same amount of low flow from the OEM hard lines that run under the rear differential.

Since I've tripled-checked that there are no blockages, no kinked or bent lines, and the fact that everything is basically brand new, I believe there is some air in the ABS system that I must have introduced over the course of the car sitting on jacks with the brakes disconnected. The only solutions to this are a dealership visit to use their GT1, or what I'll be trying tonight, the INPA bleeding process. I haven't seen anyone confirm that it will work on the E82, but I will answer that soon enough. INPA bleeders claim a better pedal feel when compared to traditional bleeding methods.
In the meantime, I couldn't resist quickly mounting up the new front lip, putting the wheels back on and getting the car on the ground to take in the new look.



04-21-2017: As I mentioned in my last post, I suspected air had crept into system and was impeding flow to the rear calipers. This made bleeding the rear brakes impossible no matter the method I tried. This was especially frustrating considering how badly I just wanted to drive the car after sitting for so long. As usual when I find myself in a pickle, I headed to Google. Since I had went back through everything and double checked for blockages, I could either head to the dealership to connect to their system or find a way to bleed the lines with INPA. These seemed to be my last two options before dis-assembling everything and checking for some type of hardware issue with the caliper itself.

With the help of my trusty Windows 32-bit I snagged off eBay to code my injectors and the INPA K+DCAN cable I decided to attempt to bleed the brakes via computer before exploring the dealership route. I searched for hours after calling it quits the night before, and found no one that verified that this process had been performed on an E82 platform. This left me skeptical that I would be able to connect to the DSC system that could flush and bleed all four brakes properly.

Never the less, I headed back to the garage after I got off work to give it a shot. First up was getting the car back off the ground. The side skirts extensions and front lip make this an adventure! I also hooked up my battery charger just in case. Luckily I have about 5 low profile jacks and a few jack pad inserts at my disposal. I connected to the car just the way I would when I was coding the injectors -- ignition on.


From there I started exploring the possible options that this software allowed. I began by selecting my chassis code, which for this instance was E87. By selecting E87, that opened up a few different options. From there I selected Chassis, followed by Dynamic Stability Control.


That brought up warning messages about non-matching languages and versions.



If you continue to hit OK, you'll find yourself at another main menu. From the screen below, I pressed F6 to Activate.


Now we had arrived at what I had been looking for and my skepticism of being able to connect began to subside somewhat.


I had picked up a few more liters of Pentosin beforehand because I knew I'd be flushing quite a bit of fluid through the system. I used this to top off the reservoir and closed the cap. I reattached the bleed bottle and fitting over the bleeder screw of the right rear caliper and made sure that the end of the hose in the bottle was submerged under fluid as to not suck up any additional air bubbles back into the system. At this point I went back in the car and selected DSC rework bleeding RR from the menu. A notification then popped up instructing me to go to right rear caliper and loosen the bleeder screw.


I did just that, then returned to the driver's seat and selected Ok. What happened next nearly blew my mind. Luckily I was on my toes, because the first time caught me off guard. I was immediately given a set of on-screen "live" instructions on how to work the brake pedal while the system was doing its thing. This involved 2-3 minutes of activating/releasing the brake pedal, pressing the pedal down 80%. etc. The entire time the DSC module is vibrating audibly as it pushes fluid through the system. I was amazed. Here's a quick video of this in action:

If you watched the entire video, once the sequence is complete, you will receive another notification that directs you to close the same bleeder screw you opened before.


After just one round of flushing, the tube extending from the bleeder screw to the bottle was completely full of fluid with no visible air bubbles. This was a very welcomed sight. After closing the bleeder screw and selecting Ok once again, I headed back to the brake fluid reservoir to find it quite low. I topped it off again and proceeded to do the exact same process on the other three corners using the same RR, RL, FR, FL technique and topping off the fluid after each corner. Then I re-bled the entire system a second time just to be sure and topped off the brake fluid reservoir one final time before firing the car up, but I could already feel the pedal was far better than before.

Let the ignition turn on for a few seconds to prime the fuel pump (something I habitually do now) and hit the start button. The car fired right up, stumbled for a quick second under cold start, and then cleared up indefinitely as the cold start mode finished and the RPMs settled down. For such a tame tone when warm, this catless setup is loud under cold start. Makes me want to explore the MHD option to disable this. I ensured that there were no leaks with the new water pump, that the belt system was functioning properly, and that there were no other liquids dripping anywhere.

Success! Pedal feel is a little softer than before, but is to be expected with all new hardware and no bedding yet. The conditions outside were wet and slippery so I figured I'd save bedding the brakes for another day this weekend even though I was dying to get the car back on the road. I'll report back with more pictures and comments on the new brakes when the weather clears!

04-23-2017: Well, nothing new as far as brake performance updates yet. We've had a steady dose of rain here in North Carolina for the last 72 hours and it doesn't look to be letting up for the next few days. I did manage to get the car home and parked. I recently moved out of the apartment complex I was in and into a house with a little more space, so no more watching the two N54s like hawks for possible door ding danger. Now they can sprawl out a bit, while I can still access all the parts of town by foot that I need to.

It pained me to bring the freshly detailed 1er out into these types of conditions, but this was never intended to be a garage queen build. I'm chomping at the bit to get in the car this week and bed these beautiful brakes in. And some more quick shots until I can find some time and weather for a proper shoot.






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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
04-28-2017: Well the weather finally cleared enough for me to spend some dedicated time with the new brakes. I found a desolate stretch of road and bedded in the new setup. Not only does this setup look sensational, but the stopping power is improved with the new pads and rotors. Time will tell if the dust is any different than the OEM pads. I also had a few hours to kill this evening, so I hosed off the car to knock off all the pollen and went to take some glory shots of the new setup.

As far as the aesthetics of the car, I couldn't be happier. The side skirt extensions and front lip really bring everything full circle, and thankfully, clearance doesn't seem to have been compromised all that much. I've been over some interesting terrain today and didn't scrape on anything.

Enough blabbering -- I'll let the pictures do the talking.








And tucked away safely in my own driveway. Away from possible door dings.



For those wondering, Winston is enjoying the new digs as well. Did you spot in him in the pictures above? He's a big fan of the new braking ability and couldn't quite understand why he couldn't come along for the bedding procedure.


05-03-2017: I finally got the call to come get my airbag replaced under recall. The process took about an hour and a half and I got to check out a brand new, fully optioned M4 in the main lobby while waiting.

As the service technician pulled the car around, he complimented the car and inquired about what exactly I'd done as far as modifications. When I mentioned that I was running around E40 fuel in the car, he went on a rant about the dangers of ethanol in gasoline and that I should run ethanol-free in these cars if you could find it. Just a reminder, these are the "professionals" working on your vehicles folks.


05-17-2017: Even though I just finished up with a large round of modifications, I've found myself tinkering with my setup once again. This time I started tearing things down for a few different reasons.

I had become fatigued from the constant noises expelled from the HKS blow off valve under the hood. I was impressed and entertained for the first 6 months or so, but the combination of inlets, trimmed engine cover for catch cans, BMS cowl covers and the HKS BOV made it audible whenever the throttle was lifted no matter the RPM or boost level. That, coupled with the fact the fact that I'll probably be pushing 25psi when I upgrade the turbos, I wanted a more robust (and quiet) combination of charge pipe and blow off valve.

Enter the proven Evolution Racewerks black anodized long charge pipe with a black Tial blow off valve bolted on. It was slightly used, but I was able to purchase this one for exactly what I sold my previous Evolution Racewerks short charge pipe with HKS blow off valve. Besides a few little paint chips, everything looked pretty much brand new.



Before I uninstalled the current setup and sent it off to the new owner, I took the time to transfer over the rubber o-ring for the interior seal of the charge pipe, the large C-clip, and finally the 3.5 BAR sensor and BMS adapter.


I quickly got to work taking off the intakes, engine cover, old charge pipe, throttle body, and pulled back the catch cans in preparation to remove the intake manifold.


Why would I go through all of this simply to get the charge pipe setup swapped out? Even though I hadn't broken off the plastic OEM vacuum source nipple on the intake manifold, with this new Tial blow off valve, I wanted to have a dedicated vacuum source with a larger diameter hose. Hopefully this would avoid the fluttering that some people experience with inlets, as well as make the BOV respond instantly.

Because of the orientation of this particular charge pipe, I would be able to utilize a very similar location for the larger vacuum source I'd be creating. Seeing as I'm the planning ahead type, I'd already placed an order on Amazon so I'd have all the necessary supplies to make this as quick and painless as possible. With the intake manifold removed, the old nipple was plugged, and an 11/32" drill bit was used to tap the new vacuum source.


Following the initial drill bit pass, I took a 1/8" NPT tap and created a threaded spot to screw in the 1/8" NPT to 1/4" barbed fitting I also had.



The barbed fitting threaded in perfectly, but considering there would be a lot of pressure flowing through this manifold at times, some added protection would be needed. Some JB weld on the threads and surrounding areas would be enough to do the trick. I was very careful with this portion of the project, as I've seen some very messy DIY results due to sloppiness on this step.


Add some 1/4" (6.35mm) high temperature silicone vacuum hose, a small hose clamp to ensure the barbs hold, and now this Tial BOV should have no problem operating properly.


At this point I also took a flashlight and took a peek at my intake valves. With 61,000 miles on the odometer I cleaned my intake valves spotless and installed catch cans on the high and low sides including an external PCV system. With 74,500 miles on the odometer today, I was somewhat disappointed at what I saw. The valves weren't fully gunked up, but there were plenty of deposits on all 6 cylinders. It appears without some type of injection setup in conjunction with all the other preventative steps I've taken, eliminating intake valve cleanings completely may not be possible. Oh well, at least I'm getting better at removing my intake manifold.

As did my last, the Evolution Racewerks charge pipe fit great and came with high quality clamps. I made sure to get the charge pipe fully seated and all the t-clamps on the upper intercooler hose to charge pipe connection tightened and over the bead. The black anodized pipe and black finish of the Tial BOV look great in the engine bay and are much preferred over the previous polished look.


With everything bolted back on, its hard to tell the engine bay is even modified. The charcoal colored filters, and black plasti-dipped upper components, black catch cans, etc. keep everything subtle and stock-looking. Before firing up the car, I turned on the ignition and connected with my JB4 Mobile App, activated the 3.5BAR TMAP option, and saved the settings. The car cranked without issue and there were no leaks under vacuum that I could find.

First impressions of this setup over the old:
  • Under low throttle driving situations, the Tial BOV is essentially silent.
  • Once you reach boost levels around 10psi, things become audible.
  • Letting off the accelerator under full boost or during shifts, the sound is sensational!
  • No fluttering under any boost levels with my MMP inlets.
  • This is a setup I can enjoy far more as a daily driver. The cowl filters no longer let in a whoosh any time the gas pedal is released. In fact, I have to purposely dip deep into the throttle before the Tial shows itself.
05-18-2017: Today was the end of a chapter in my N54 life. It would be the last time I'd have to use the Bavarian Technic cable and BB software to add back end flashes. For the past few months I'd been running on the BMS E85 BEF added with the BT Cable and BB software with great success. Just this morning I took a quick jaunt on the on-ramp in third gear, E45 in the tank, Map 7 activated. The fantastic JB4 Mobile App immediately began logging as I entered WOT so I was able to go back and analyze afterwards. It's always refreshing to see the numbers looking as they should.


Although I'd never hit a snag with the BT/BB combo when flashing the DME, the whole process, as well as online horror stories, always made me nervous. In addition, the only trustworthy Windows computer I had access to was a desktop. This meant flashing on the go was not a possibility. Not good if my access to E85 was suddenly compromised.

Using the BB software and BT cable to flash the stock .org file back to the ECU may have not been a necessary step, but I wanted to ensure no complications going forward. This meant dragging out the desktop one last time and firing up the BB software. With a battery charger attached, I began the writing process. 15 minutes later, my stock software was now present and I was back to square one. I had managed to escape the BB/BT method of flashing for years without one hiccup. I consider myself lucky.


As I exit the era of outdated flashing and long write times, enter the Lenovo Tab3 A8 ($99 on Amazon), a basic OTG cable ($4.79 on Amazon), the existing K+DCAN USB cable I use to operate INPA, and the MHD Flasher app. Once connected, I purchased the Flasher Module ($99) and the E85 Mix Maps Pack ($49). I plan on utilizing the M Boost Option or possibly a custom tune from Trebila in the future, but for now I'll play with some of the OTS Wedge E85 tunes.


With the battery charger still attached, I opted for the E40 v7.1 flash (my ethanol content was E43 at the time), selected my manual transmission, and entered the options mode. There I was able to activate the cold start noise reduction mode, a feature I was very much looking forward to using. The only other option I activated was the turbo wastegate rattle fix, but I'm sure I'll experiment with some of the others down the road. I have no intentions of going anywhere near the exhaust burble option -- too many mixed reviews and my exhaust already burbles on command naturally. The estimated write time for the first go around was 35 minutes, but involved none of the anxiety associated with the old method.


A little over a half hour later and the flash was complete.


Just to see how quickly the subsequent writes would be, I slightly altered the wastegate rattle slider and flashed the E40 v7.1 flash again. Only 2 minutes this time. Excellent! And in this compact package, I can stick the tablet and cables in the glovebox and have the ability to flash maps at the pump, on the go, or whenever I feel like changing things up. This also gives me the ability to work remotely with a tuner in the future.


After letting the car sit for a few minutes, I turned the ignition back on, entered menu 4.4, and changed from map 0 to 4 before saving the settings and starting the car. The car turned over immediately, rose to 1000 or so RPMs and settled back near the 650 stock idle point. Incredible! My setup is pretty quiet to most, but those cold starts can get obnoxious in the early mornings. I'll try to grab some videos of that soon.

Once the car had reached the proper temperature, I took the car fully through 3rd gear in a similar on-ramp situation as I had this morning. Perhaps it was just placebo effect, but the E40 Wedge OTS flash felt noticeably better than the BMS E85 BEF / Map 7 I had been running hours earlier. Maybe it was just the increased throttle points, as boost seemed to come on earlier and stronger, but I certainly liked what I felt. Once I get used to this for a few days/weeks, I'll move on to the E60 map to see which I prefer.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
06-02-2017: I also have some exciting news about a part that arrived today. Not necessarily because it was a big part of my build or because it took a large investment, but rather because these are almost impossible to find anymore in brand new condition. For reasons unknown, BMW stopped offering their OEM Performance short shift kit a while back. This was well before I'd even purchased my own personal E82. Having had short shift kits on my cars in the past, I was disappointed to find out that the best kit for the 6MT N54 135i was no longer available.

That was until someone on 1Addicts listed up the entire kit minus alcantara boot and performance shift knob for sale in the classifieds. Seeing as how I'd already upgraded to the OEM BMW Performance alcantara boot and ZHP weighted knob, I didn't need the missing pieces anyways. After investing a hefty chunk of capital in brakes, water pump, thermostat, and a new to me second car, I managed to avoid sending a PM for a month or so. But as we all do from time to time, the addiction overtook willpower and I could no longer hold myself back. Before long, I had the ball rolling on getting this kit from Canada to me in the Carolinas. After anxiously awaiting delivery, today it arrived.

I had contemplated installing a dual shear selector rod at the same time, but will probably give my go at installing this kit alone over the next week or so to feel the difference then reassess as to whether the DSSR is absolutely necessary.




I already have a set of Whiteline KDT918 subframe bushing inserts, Redline 75W90 differential fluid, and am researching rear diff lock-down kits in hopes of settling the rear end of the car under heavy acceleration.

On the V5 E40 MHD Flash, the car is an animal once boost comes on. This has further exaggerated the "floaty" feeling the rear of the car produces under full throttle. The springs/shocks helped a bit at JB4 only power levels, but now that E85 and 20+ pounds of boost are involved, with more planned for the near future, the subframe bushing inserts are a necessity for safety's sake.

06-04-2017: I've been tempted to install the OEM BMW Performance short shift kit that arrived recently, but will remain patient until a few other parts arrive and I can install everything at once. A set of Whiteline subframe bushing inserts, a Boost Addictions V2 differential lockdown kit, and Redline 75W90 for the rear differential are on the way.

While I wait for everything to arrive, my next oil change could not. The 75,000 interval had come and this would bring about the transition from OEM BMW oil to Motul. I'd put a combined 150,000 miles on N54 engines, changing the oil over 20 times, but not once had I used anything other than OEM BMW oil.
I ordered a set of Rhino Ramps for oil and transfer case fluid changes on the Cayenne, but thought I would try them out on the 1er as well. I had just enough clearance on my lowered E82.


I enjoy being able to buy Motul 8100 X-Cess 5W40 in 5 liter jugs with spouts. This makes pouring much easier and cuts down on twisting off lids.


I had the opportunity to use this new tool, and can say for the very first time, that I didn't get one drop of oil on me during this entire oil change. I loosened the Dimple Plug, then attached this magnetic drain plug remover to fully remove.


After removing the old oil filter, I always try my best to get as much of the old oil out of the oil filter housing. I'd be very interested to see how much old oil is retained in the lines and cooler part of the oil cooler system after completely draining the pan and getting as much old oil out of the filter housing as possible.


The OEM/Mann oil filter kits are the only way to go. I've seen other brands collapse and lived it first hand on my other N54 engine in my E60 when I let a local Euro shop change my oil. This is when I vowed to never let anyone else change the oil in my vehicles as long as I live. Always replace the green and black o-rings on the oil filter cap as well. It may be a good idea to hang on to a few of the larger black o-rings, or order a few extras -- I recently heard these are the same o-rings used in the N54 charge pipe, but I haven't confirmed myself.


Using the BMS tool makes removing and installing the cap and filter extremely easy.


I used the handy measurement marks on the exterior of the 5 liter jug to measure out exactly 7 quarts before pouring it down the funnel. Ordering 3 of the 5 liter jugs gives me enough fluid for two oil changes, as well as having a little left over for topping off. I also took the opportunity to empty the Mishimoto OCC before firing up the car.

06-09-2017: I finally got around to making a video today that I've been wanting to make for a while. After installing the Fuel-It! Stage 2 LPFP, upgraded fuel lines, ethanol analyzer, and Continental sensor, I was able to monitor live readings of my ethanol content. Prior to then, I'd always wondered about exactly how long it took the ratios not only to mix, but also how long it took for those updated ratios to reach the combustion chambers.

I was told that E85 + 93 octane mixes almost immediately due to the natural re-circulation systems within the fuel pumps/tank. That doesn't mean that the mixture in the tank has reached the engine though. For instance, the video below are the five minutes following a fill up. I pulled up to the pump with a small amount of what the ethanol sensor was reading as E23 fuel (I added a few gallons of 93 octane on an almost empty tank of E40 just for the purpose of this video, hence the strange E23 mixture).

I then added 7 gallons of E85 and 5 gallons of 93 octane to reach an approximate goal of E40. The first minute or so shows me starting the car, getting out of the gas station, stopping at a traffic light, then immediately getting on I-85 and getting up to about 60-70 MPH and staying there.
A few things to watch for:
  • Take note of how tame the exhaust note, especially with the windows up cruising on the interstate and considering I'm running fully catless.
  • Please excuse the sounds of plastic bags in the backseat and iced coffee in my Yeti cup making strange noises in the first part, before I roll up the windows. By the way, a 30oz Yeti Tumbler fits perfectly and secure in the front cupholder.

When I purchased my 135i back in 2016, the car came with a cracked third brake light. I quickly replaced the light with another OEM piece, shaved down the metal tab blocking the new style lights, and used the same nuts/springs to secure the new light. To my chagrin, within a few months, there were multiple cracks again.

I'm not sure whether or not to chalk this up to not using the updated springs/bolts or slamming the trunk too hard on occasion. When I removed the light today, it was barely holding itself together. I'm surprised I wasn't having leaking issues.


This time around I ordered a replacement OEM third brake light directly from ECS Tuning complete with new nuts/springs.


15 minutes later and the new light was installed and my rear end was complete again. Comparing the original nuts and springs to the ones I ordered, I saw no visible difference. Oh well. I'll keep everyone updated on how long this one lasts. I will be sure to be gentle when closing the trunk from now on and instruct others to do the same.


Next week, I'm having the entire car stripped of the aging 25% window tint all around. I'll be replacing with 35% legal ceramic tint and have thought about asking to have the third brake light tinted as well.

A few more components of my drivetrain improvement round of modifications arrived earlier today: The Boost Addictions V2 Lockdown kit and the Rogue Engineering transmission mounts. Both look to be of excellent quality.




The OTC oil suction gun also came in, so getting fresh Redline 75W90 fluid in the rear differential should be a lot easier now. I made quite a mess of draining and refilling the transmission when I replaced the OEM fill fluid with Redline D4 ATF. This thing feels a lot more heavy duty than it looks.


My fiance will be out of town next weekend, so I will get to spend some quality time with the 135i. I plan on trying to install all these components at once: OEM BMW Performance SSK, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts, Boost Addictions V2 Lockdown Kit, Whiteline subframe bushing inserts, and swapping the OEM fill fluid in the differential for Redline 75W90.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
06-18-2017: As planned, I spent some quality time over the past few days with the 1er. Before heading off to our first scheduled stop, I grabbed a quick video of the MHD "Cold Start Noise Reduction" option enabled after letting the car sit overnight -- one of the main reasons I made the switch from BB/BT Cable to apply my back-end flashes. Compared to what the OEM cold start sounds like with catless downpipes, cat-deleted N54 midpipes, and the MadDad Whisper axleback, this is much better for early mornings.

Her pampering session began around noon on Friday when I dropped off the car to address the window tint. When I bought the car last year the windows were tinted at 20% and looked pretty good, but there were two problems: NC requires 35% of light to pass through your window tint in order to pass inspection AND the back glass had became hazy to the point where visibility had been compromised.

A few hours later and the old tint had been removed and replaced with 35% ceramic all around. And I can finally see clearly out of my rear glass after over a year!


I left immediately after to install all of the goodies I'd collected over the past few months. I knew I wouldn't need much clearance under the front of the car, so I used RhinoRamps on the front and extra large jack-stands in the rear.


I had decided to work from front to rear, so the OEM BMW Performance short shift kit was first on the agenda. I already had replaced the stock boot and shift knob earlier on; with the OEM BMW Performance alcantara boot and a weighted ZHP shift knob (an ode to the E46 M3 I owned and loved for many years).


Before I got too deep into the installation procedure, I wanted to get a BEFORE version of exactly what shifting the OEM N54 setup looked and sounded like:

The first order of business was getting off that shift knob. Shift into fourth gear, pull up with force, avoid own face.


After unlocking the clips on the shift boot surround, remove that and pull away the foam padding underneath.


Underneath the foam padding, there is a VERY tough rubber insert that you'll need to remove. This will take some serious coaxing.


Once that is removed, it's time to get underneath the car.


There is one small plastic shield to remove, and then you're granted access to a small sliver of the transmission mounts, driveshaft, and above that, the small clip holding the shift lever in place that we need to remove.


At this point you have a few options. You can remove the midpipes from the rear axle-back and front downpipes, as well as the driveshaft. This will give you very easy access to everything you need to do.

Or you can do what I did, and just remove the bolt and securing nut holding the heat shielding on and bend it downwards to give you more access.


Now you can easily see the circlip. Rotate it so the opening is facing the bottom, slide a screwdriver underneath and push upwards to remove. Mine was filthy with grease and dirt.


Now back up inside the car. Place a screwdriver between the shift lever and the selector rod, move the gear level towards reverse and the two pieces will separate.


Now the shift lever should be completely free and flopping around.


Now it's time to remove the lever. Place two flat-tip screwdrivers in the openings of the bearing slot and rotate 90 degrees. Looking back, it would have probably been easier to have used an open pair of needle nose pliers for this purpose.


After a few tries, I was able to pull the lever up and out.



Now back under the car to remove the carrier. This is where having small hands helps. Mine are average I'd say and my choice to leave the mid pipes and driveshaft in place left me navigating some very tight spaces. To help give me a little more room, and seeing as how transmission mounts were next on the to-do list, I removed the transmission brace from the car.

4 bolts and 2 nuts on bottom of the brace, 2 nuts on the top and it slides right off. I slipped an extra jack under the transmission just in case, but noticed no movement throughout the process.



Now there is a lot more room for hands and arms.


The carrier is held into place by one rear rubber bushing encased in metal and two pin-clips in the front. The rear rubber bushing can be dislodged by inserting a tool into the small opening and pushing upwards, using the leverage of the tool to push the bushing downwards and out of the bracket.


Now that the rear is free, it was time to unhinge the front clips/pins in the center of the picture below. Using a screwdriver, place it under the clip and push it upwards. Once in the full upright position the pins slide outward and now the carrier should be completely free.


Despite being free, this does not mean the carrier is removed. I spent the next few minutes playing Tetris with the available space above the driveshaft, contorting the carrier this way and that until I was finally able to snake it around and out.
Side by side comparison of the two carrier/lever combos.



Now it was time to change over the bushings to the new carrier starting with the rear. This one slid easily off the old, and easily on the new.


And the two front bushings. A small flat tip screwdriver and a soft touch had these out easily.


Some grease and some force had them installed in the new carrier within minutes.


I liberally applied grease to the ball of the shift lever and pulled the bearing and clip into place.


Back inside the car, place the lever into the carrier and align the tabs. At this point you can push the lever down into place and we're nearly done.


I grabbed the new included circlip to connect the shift lever and selector rod and hopped back under the car.


After double checking all the connections and ensuring the shift lever moved freely and without issue, it was time to install the new transmission mounts on the transmission brace we removed earlier.

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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
A nice comparison shot of the two transmission mounts -- the Rogue Engineering mounts on the left, OEM on the right.


Installing these takes seconds, and the tabs make them impossible to mess up the orientation.


Heat shielding bent back into place, bolt and fastening nut bolted down, and transmission brace re-installed.


While I was still feeling energetic about wrenching, I moved on to the next big task -- the Whiteline subframe inserts.


With the rear of the car in the air and the rear wheels removed, locate the front and rear subframe bushings. The rear is in plain sight.


The front is hiding inside here. You'll also have to loosen, but not remove, the diagonal brace attached to this. Go ahead and do this now.


From there I loosened the front bolts until they were almost out.


Then I removed the rear bolts entirely.


By lowering and raising the suspension, the rear subframe bushing inserts can be pushed into place and the bolts reinserted and started, but not tightened.


Here are the rears prior to tightening.


Now fully remove the fronts and lower/raise the suspension in order to place the two front inserts on each side. This is what it will look like once you're done.


Reinsert the front bolts and tighten both the front bolts and rear bolts to 84 ft/lbs to complete the job.

From there i moved on to the differential gear oil change. I don't really understand the reasoning for not having a drain bolt, but that meant we'd need a way to suction out the old differential fluid. You'll need one of these for the fill bolt.


The OTC suction gun worked nicely for sucking out all the old liquid, but only after I attached a smaller diameter hose so I could get down in all of the crevices of the differential.


Once there was no more fluid being sucked out, I took the other OTC suction gun I ordered, filled it with Redline 75W90 and forced the contents into the differential until it began spilling out the fill bolt. I tightened the fill bolt and grabbed the Boost Addictions large V2 differential lockdown brace and bolts. These interlocking washers allow for tightening without having a wrench holding the bolt in place when tightening the nut.


A few minutes later and voila! Don't mind the gear oil soaked handprints all over the braces, I wiped everything down.


The last order of business before going on a test drive was to address my current catch can mounting situation. While the BMS OCC was mounted securely with the included bracket, the other BMS OCC bracket I ordered just wasn't cutting it. I'd used a few different combinations of bolts and metal supports, but it still moved around and made emptying the Mishimoto OCC difficult and time consuming. Some of the bolts I picked up had even been compromised by moisture and had began to rust in just a few months becoming an unwelcome eye sore when the hood was popped. I explored a few different options before ultimately deciding on the most spacious part of my engine bay, the section right in front of the driver's headlight. The only issue here would be that I would need additional line in order to reach the new mounting spot. Luckily I had some steel braided line lying around that I could use for the throttle body connection and use the entirety of the kit included line to run from the can to the PCV valve of the engine.

I also took this time to tuck away a bunch of wiring very neatly, and add hose clamps to all of the oil catch can connections. In addition, I installed a brand new PCV flapper valve as I had damaged the clip of the old one during countless removals and installations.




And here's the new location of the Mishimoto OCC. I'll order some new matching line when I get a chance, but this will work perfectly for now. Both cans are mounted rock solid, but more importantly, the external PCV system attached to the Mishimoto OCC has to be emptied frequently, and now it can be done easily while the top portion of the can is still attached. Just unscrew and pull off, empty, and screw back on without the need for allen wrenches or removing air filters.



After buttoning everything up and putting all the tools away, it was time to get back in the car and move around the new short shift kit. First feel impressions are that height is seemingly unaffected. The position of neutral is now about an inch or so more to the right than before. Now the gear layout is more in line with what shows on the pattern on top of the ZHP shift knob. Throws are dramatically reduced and each gear clicks into place with a satisfying click. Moving the lever takes more effort, like everything is more tightly wound, but in a very good way. Here's a video of the new movement.

As I backed out of the small complex our garage is in and pulled out on the main road, my first row through the gears left me in awe. No joke. Mouth fully agape. Every single bit of slop in the drivetrain had seemingly been eliminated. Shifting from first into second was no longer a chore. Just a pull and click, right into place without any fuss. As someone who enjoys nailing an upshift across all driving conditions, or perfectly rev matching a downshift, this kit was priceless. Things are fully predictable.
Once the car was fully warm, I was able to up the ante a bit. Not only had the shifting linkage been tightened, but under heavy throttle all the dancing around in the rear end had been eliminated. Finally the car just squats and goes under heavy accelleration. I haven't had time to test anything in the mountain roads around here, but even just floating over interstate roads the rear end feels more planted.
Power adders are fun, but this round of drivetrain modifications was among the most rewarding I've done. I hit heavy boost only a handful of times a week, but I shift gears hundreds of times of day. Because this is a daily driver, I also have no interest in any type of "race car" modifications that compromise drivability for the sake of small increases in performance. This meant that any type of significant NVH (Noise/Vibration/Harshness) was simply unacceptable. I'm elated to share that this combination of mods resulted in no added noise, zero vibrations, and not an ounce of harshness.

It's a damn shame this short shift kit isn't available any longer.

While Winston and I can't roll down the windows for another day as to not damage the new tint, we were still fully utilizing the 1er all day Saturday running errands, shipping out oversized items, and going to the dog park of course. We hope everyone else has had an excellent weekend!


06-28-2017: After purchasing the car early last year, it was finally time to renew my tag and registration in the state of North Carolina. This meant that I would need to get my fully catless car inspected. I did quite a bit of research to find out if any other North Carolinians had been able to get past this hurdle and couldn't really find a definitive answer.

When I arrived home from work on Tuesday afternoon, I turned the JB4 to map 0, and flashed the stage 0 map via the MHD Flasher. Afterwards, I went inside and didn't touch the car again until Wednesday morning. I started the car to run a few errands and left the MHD Flasher app plugged in and active so I could monitor readiness. I made sure not to get over 3,000RPM during this process, although I'm not completely sure that was necessary. After driving the car for about 10 minutes in city conditions, I turned the car off, and returned 15 minutes later. Following the 2nd crank, I now was showing readiness across the board, including catalyst. I found an inspection station five minutes away so I could try my luck before the CEL popped up.

15 minutes later and I had passed with flying colors. I flashed back to the MHD E40 map as soon as they backed my car out of the bay. I also decided to give the Sport Coolant Target option a try.


I felt relieved that I had passed inspection despite having 0 of the original 4 catalytic converters installed.

Now for some bad news -- or more of a right of passage for N54 owners. Starting about two weeks ago, I started to get a bit of smoke coming out of the exhaust. This only happened when the car had reached full operating water/oil temps, had been sitting in stop-go traffic, when riding 2nd gear to a stop, and when the RPMs dipped below 1000. Smoke clouds of varying sizes depending on condition would envelop the car. I initially thought it may have been a faulty flapper valve, which is why I replaced that a few weeks back. The clips had been compromised and the o-ring didn't seem to be sealing any longer. That cheap fix did not correct the smoking when coming to a complete stop.

I re-checked all the connections to the oil catch cans and verified all hoses were in the proper places. The external PCV eliminated the possibility that my PCV valve had failed.

This left only two things that could be causing this: valve cover issues or leaking turbo seals. I removed the engine cover and inspected the valve cover for any leaks. While there didn't seem to be any obvious areas, there were some damp spots. As I'm quickly approaching 80,000 miles and over 8 years on the OEM valve cover and gasket, it's certainly a candidate for failure. At nearly $400.00 for the cover, gasket and bolts, its not a scheduled maintenance item I'd budgeted for.

At some point of my forum research for a solution to this smoke, I read about a test that involved holding the throttle around 1000-1200RPM for an extended period. To my amazement, after doing this for a bit I started seeing more smoke than ever before. I grabbed my camera and filmed this. Keep in mind that the car is fully warmed up. It will not smoke AT ALL if not fully up to temperature. No smoke under boost. Just when it passes that threshold of 1000RPM before falling back to idle. I can avoid smoking all together by throwing the car into neutral and rolling to a stop instead, which is what I've been doing in traffic to alleviate the embarrassment.

I've already purchased a new valve cover, gasket and bolts in the hopes of stopping the smoke. Those items should be here Friday and I'll be installing them Saturday to see if this corrects the problem. I'm already prepared to see the problem immediately remedied, but if turbo seals are truly the culprit, I should see the smoke when stopping come back in a week or so. The most logical explanation in my mind seems to be that the valve cover PCV inner components are gunked up or there is a crack/compromised portion of the gasket that is causing issues when the car is transitioning from boost to vacuum. Also not burning any oil. The oil level is still at max from the last oil change.

07-02-2017: Earlier today I was able to spend some more time with my 1er trying to track down the cause of the recent smoking issue I've been having. I wasn't 100% convinced it was a valve cover problem, but at my mileage, it was probably going to break down soon anyways. I purchased a brand new valve cover from ECS Tuning and it came with brand new bolts and a brand new gasket already pressed into place. Not the most fun way to spend $379.50 on a 135i. I also picked up 6 more feet of Earl's Pro Lite 350 -6AN hose so I could run the same line instead of the mismatched hoses I had prior.



I had just done this job a few months back on my E60 535i right before I handed the keys over the new owner, so I was still somewhat familiar with the process. Started by popping the hood and then used the ECS Tuning N54 valve cover install guide as close reference.


I then removed the passenger side of the strut bar and the cosmetic engine cover.


Next to come out was the DCIs and low-side OCC hoses.


I also took this opportunity to dump the catch can after 2,000 or so miles. Incredible as usual.

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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
As I started to remove the coil harnesses and coil themselves, I noticed that I had a pool of oil sitting near the cylinder 5/6 injectors that had not been there previously. This could indicate a crack in the the valve cover, a breakdown of the valve cover gasket or both.


The coils were the next to be removed, along with the sleeves inside.



Using the same pick I took the sleeves out with, I removed the harnesses attached to each injector as well as the small nuts on the ground posts. Two more 10mm bolts hold the entire wiring harness to the valve cover. Two other vacuum hoses must be removed from the vacuum canisters as well as right behind the oil filter housing.


Now was time to remove the fuel lines that are form-fitted over the valve cover. A 14mm wrench, a towel, and ventilation was needed.


After all the excess fuel has been soaked up by the towel, I broke open the other 5 14mm fuel lines on the driver's side. Then it was on to the injector side of the lines. A 13mm on the injector to make sure it doesn't get torqued around, and use the 14mm to break loose the nut.


I then used a long 10mm socket instead of the special BMW tool to remove the ground posts. The socket wrench doesn't completely click into place, but gives just enough depth to be able to unbolt the ground posts.



There are four 10mm bolts that hold the fuel rail to the head. These, along with the clips and harnesses, must be removed.


Now it was FINALLY time to start removing the 28 bolts securing the valve cover.


This takes patience, a strong back, a few different extensions and swivel sockets. Eventually I had them all removed. I chose to remove each of them with a pair of needle nosed pliers just to be certain that I hadn't left any partially screwed in. I pulled away all the wiring so everything would be easier to remove/install.


I then used this little trim tool to pry away the valve cover until it was freed all the way around.


I carefully pulled the old cover up and out to get my first glimpse at what lies beneath.



After cleaning off the old valve cover, I verified that there were no cracks or damaged areas. This would lead me to believe the oil was probably due to a failing valve cover gasket. The valve cover itself was in very good condition.


I chose not plug the ports on the head at this time, so I just wiped down all the contact areas and made sure they were clean.


Before I installed the new valve cover, I removed the brand new OEM PCV valve. This was replaced by the RB external PCV fitting. I also swapped over the oil cap hardware. Ensuring all of the wires and hoses were pulled away, I lowered the new valve cover into place. Already having the bolts and gasket in place from the package was very useful.



With the bolts already pre-installed into the cover, all I had to do was simply start tightening.


After snugging them all up by hand, I then went to each of the 28 bolts and applied the recommended 75 in-lbs.


Valve cover bolts torqued down and fuel lines tightened down.


All ignition wires connected and coils installed.


These two small vacuum hoses had become hard, brittle and cracked when I removed them. Luckily I had 15 feet of high temperature vacuum hose I'd picked up for my impending turbo install, so I utilized some and replaced the compromised portions.


The last thing i wanted to address was to correct my mismatched low-side OCC hoses. Using the 6 feet of new hose, I cut the IN and OUT to fit and ran each to ensure no kinks.



This new location allows for easy emptying without removing or unbolting anything.


After the catch can connections were reinstalled, I started the car to ensure there weren't any leaks or other issues. The car took a few seconds to crank due to the lack of fuel, but fired right up and idled great. I verified there weren't any leaks or smoke before bolting down the engine cover and moving on to the cowl setup.

For a nearly a year now I've been running inlets and cowl filters. This produces an intense intake sound in the cabin under any type of moderate throttle. When running the BMS high-side OCC, trimming of the engine cover is required. This removed some of the sound deadening material, allowing the audible tick of the direct injectors to be heard easily.

Looking for a change of pace, I went back with the OEM cowl setup and cabin filter. The BMS high-side OCC is hidden beneath the cowl setup now and the Mishimoto low-side OCC is still easily accessible. The black DME lid and brake fluid reservoir blend right in.


Before starting the car up and backing it out of the garage, I threw on a new oil bolt shield and clip. Mine was missing when I bought the car.


After rowing through the gears a few times, there was certainly a pleasant decrease in cabin noise with the OEM cabin filters in place as well as outside with an extra few layers of plastic separating the direct injectors from ears.

On the drive home I got the car up to temperature and stopped at a few lights with no signs of smoking. When I backed up into my driveway, I repeated the 1000RPM test that used to produce clouds of smoke before and could not get that to happen. I'm still skeptical that the valve cover has fixed my smoking issue, but nevertheless, I'm glad it's been replaced along with the gasket for maintenance reasons. Within a few thousand miles or so, that oil leak would have found its way into the spark plug galley and more than likely started causing misfires. Keeping the oil inside an N54 is a constant struggle.

Morning update: replacing the valve cover and valve cover gasket DID NOT cure the smoking when coming to a stop issue I was having. Seems like a given at this point this is an example of leaking turbo seals.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
07-07-2017: Something arrived earlier today indicative of the new route I've chosen to take with this build as it relates to power goals. While I won't be going ST, I will be utilizing Motiv's port injection spacer, rail and injector kit to add more fuel to the additional air I'll have on tap with the new turbos. I'll need to add a few more connections, fuel line, and a way to control the additional Bosch injectors. Along with the additional fuel I'll be able to supply, combining port injection with the external PCV setup should really help keep the intake valves clean.





07-08-2017: I got around to installing a custom-cut smoked third brake light from @[highbrowed](contact:245073).

From 10+ feet away the third brake light now blends right into the Jet Black deck lid. When illuminated, the overlay cannot be seen at all. The bright red of the stock third brake light really stuck out against the minor tint of the Blacklines, but now everything matches up much better.

Off and on shots below:



07-12-2017: The BMS JB4 port injection control module arrived today. After reading so many mixed reviews on all the AIC6 units, this made far more sense for me. It appears to be very well constructed, the individual injector harnesses clipped in with ease, and looks to be pretty easy to wire up. The other components to complete this kit will be arriving later in the week.



07-14-2017: The last few components of my pieced together port injection kit arrived today. The Fuel-It! y-shaped fuel line that has proper connections to the HPFP and port injection on one end, and my already existing ethanol sensor further underneath the car. As well as a port plug to block off the external FPR opening of the fuel rail. It's hard to beat the attention to detail and installation tips provided by Fuel-It!





For around $800 I was able to piece this Motiv + BMS + Fuel-It! port injection solution together. I've decided to stick with the Fuel-It! Stage 2 LPFP for the time being, and even after I upgrade the turbos. If the power isn't enough or the LPFP can't keep up, I'll consider the stage 3/4 option, but I doubt that will be an issue on the E40 blend I prefer to run.

Originally I had planned to leave this on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time until I had a new set of turbos in hand and then I'd install them together. Now I'm starting to second guess that approach and am becoming more and more tempted to install the port injection kit, work out any kinks with hardware/tuning, and really push the stock turbos until serious problems arise.

In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the car and decide on a clutch/flywheel combo to hold the power of the new turbos coming in a few months.

07-31-2017: There's not much to report as far as modifications go, but I've been thoroughly enjoying the daily drive time I've been spending with my 1er lately. 4 times a week I take the car on a nearly 100 mile round trip journey. Aside from the smoke on decel issue that is ongoing and remedied by coasting to stops in neutral, the car is performing phenomenal on the MHD V5 E40 map targeting 21psi as confirmed by logs.

At 81,000 miles I was due for an oil change, so more Motul down the hatch.


Afterwards, my fiance and I took the E82 on a long drive towards Table Rock, NC for a work function, and to enjoy the weather + mountain views.


A few other things to note -- I unfortunately picked up a quarter-sized window crack while driving on the highway. When I updated my insurance last time, I made sure to include glass repair with a $0 deductible through GEICO, Only took a few months before I needed to utilize that feature. SafeLite is scheduled to come take a look at the crack and repair if possible at my home in a few days.


To help combat the 100+ temperatures I force the 1er to endure at work, I've been using this Heatshield sunshade made specifically for the E82. I have nothing but nice things to say about this. Fits perfectly and does reduce temperatures inside when coupled with the ceramic tint. But let's not kid ourselves, extreme summer temperatures plus an all black interior is not pleasant to get into after a long day of work.



I'll continue to update as parts for the impending turbo upgrade trickle in. The actual turbos themselves are less than 60 days away from being purchased.
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Oct 26, 2017
2008 BMW 135i
09-10-2017: For most of 2017, I've been researching, ordering parts, and pinching pennies to put towards the inevitable turbo upgrade that many of us N54 owners embark upon. Some of us upgrade by choice, others are forced due to failure. I fall somewhere in between. While my turbo seals are more than likely shot and smoke when coming to a stop while still in gear, at 85,000 miles, they still spool quickly and pull hard on 20+ PSI off the shelf E40 maps with inlets.

When I first won the $1000 discount contest from Vargas Turbo Technologies back in March, I had loftier power goals--goals that could only be achieved with more fueling than my Fuel-IT! Stage 2 LPFP could provide. That's when I gathered the pieces to add a full JB4 incorporated port injection system. As I continued to read stories of trashed motors thanks to port injection related misfires, the more I began to second guess my build strategy. After all, keeping the daily drivability and reliability was of upmost importance considering how much attention I paid to maintenance. The thoughts of 650HP were nice to imagine, but dealing with tons of boost and timing, a less than desirable SMFW clutch setup (that will rattle unless idle is brought up to nearly 1000rpm), and the constant fear of misfires and consequently ruining a cylinder with port injection did not sound like something I wanted for my road warrior daily driver.

After carefully considering all possible options, I unloaded the port injection setup to a fellow forum member and let go of the idea of installing a Spec Stage 3+ clutch and SMFW flywheel. Instead I would keep my power goals modest, but employ larger than necessary hybrid turbochargers to keep stress on the system to a minimum. This is the final collection of parts that I've stockpiled, as well as an unboxing of all of the beautiful VTT components that showed up earlier this week.

The entire box was around 50 pounds and fairly large, but came well packaged with plenty of bubble wrap and packing peanuts.


Right on top were the VTT intake components of the kit which included: 2" silicone inlets, silicone hot side charge pipe (outlets), dual cone filters, the "C" FMIC modification so everything will mate with my 7" VRSF intercooler, and the appropriate connections/clamps.






And the snails I ultimately decided to pull the trigger on: GC Lites.










Along with the turbos and associated silicone piping, I'll also be tackling a ton of other things while everything is torn down; mostly maintenance items that will be easy to access. Fresh oil, oil filter, NGK plugs, and new vacuum hoses all around are a given.


Heeding the advice of fellow forum members, I picked up this feeler style gauge to gap the plugs this time at .022 instead of the less-accurate coin style gauge I'd been using prior. I went ahead and gapped these so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. For what it's worth, I didn't had any misfires with the plugs that I gapped with the coin style gauge at the same .022 measurement.


In addition to the basics, I have a large pile of plastic wrapped replacement parts to install once the subframe is removed and everything is thoroughly cleaned. Included is a new turbocharger install kit from VTT, new v-band clamps, downpipe gaskets, oil pan gasket, all new oil pan hardware, oil level sensor o-ring, water pump and thermostat aluminum bolts, and a gallon of OEM coolant.


The last area to address would be the OEM N54 clutch/flywheel that I'm currently running. I do not launch the car and drive modestly for the most part aside from some rolling pulls through 3rd and 4th gear, so I haven't experienced any slipping or negative things to report at my current FBO levels, but with much more power I know I will--especially when surpassing the 500HP threshold. Since I am not willing to deal with the chatter and vibrations associated with the SMFW and on/off clutch feel in a car I deal with in traffic on hills every daily, I'm capping myself power output wise at the limitations of the OEM 335is/550i clutch; whether that be from DMFW related misfires or actual slippage.



While the transmission is out, I'll be replacing the existing setup with the 335is/550i clutch upgrade (with clutch disk, throwout bearing, clutch fork lever, pressure plate and pressure plate bolts), LUK DMFW, new flywheel bolts, transmission to engine bolts, pilot bearing, clutch alignment tool, manual transmission service kit with new drain/fill bolts, two quarts of Redline D4 ATF; a fluid that I've loved for the past 15,000 miles. I'm also hoping that the rear 2" VTT inlet will be somewhat easier to install with the transmission removed. Even the 1.75" MMP inlets I have installed now were nearly impossible with the transmission and turbos in place.



The sheer amount of parts to install is intimidating, but I'm also very excited for the experience. I have the engine support bar sitting in my basement that I'll need for the install, so at this point the only thing I have left is to decide when would be most convenient to tear the car down. With how well the car is currently running, this is a very involved tear down that I'm in no hurry to start. My 135i just turned 85,000 miles on the odometer, and I'll do my very best to make it to 100,000 miles before installing any of this unless I'm forced to do so because of clutch or turbocharger failure.


Plenty of breathing room by utilizing the GC Lites at lower boost levels, the stock-like feel of the 550i clutch and DMFW flywheel, taking care of A TON of hard-to-reach maintenance items, and being able to give the subframe and everything hiding underneath a bath sounds like something I'm going to enjoy very much! Most customers that upgrade to hybrids of this size are chasing horsepower numbers or do roll races for fun, but I'm a little different. I don't street race and don't go to organized racing events. I enjoy backroads, long sweepers on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and getting my blood pumping on certain on-ramps.

This will be more of a test of how long these puppies will last at moderate boost levels with proper fueling, larger free flowing pipes bringing air in and out, and all maintenance completely up to date.

Thanks to Vargas Turbo Technologies again for helping me save some coin!
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May 4, 2017
Plano TX
Chad has one of the best build documentations that I've seen. The car is phenomenal, the direction of the build is intriguing to most owners, the parts and vendor selection is great, the photos are professional, and there is little left to the imagination. Really a great thread for any/all new E8x/E9x owners to read through. I'm glad he brought it over here to share. I followed him in real time on other boards, but Spoolstreet is the best e8x/e9x board around.


Oct 18, 2016
2009 E93 335i
I skimmed through this, will need to go through it again later! Very nice

And yes, Welcome to SpoolStreet. You'll find less bullshit and more tech heavy conversation here than you might in other places. That is the goal anyway.