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Old 05-03-2022, 07:13 PM   #1
dannyzabolotny
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Default Danny's 318ti Thread (5-speed/slicktop)

Hey all,

I figured I'd start a thread to keep track of progress on this 318ti I just picked up... I've had build threads for every other car I've owned (bunch of E34's, E39's, E36's, E46's, E38, E53, etc) so why not one for this little meatball?

The car is a 8/95 build, with an OBDI M42 and a 5-speed. It has a hair under 200k miles at the moment, and is Alpine White with the gray-ish cloth interior.

I bought it from my friend who had gotten it running and did a bit of work to it, including replacing a bunch of rotten fuel hoses under the manifold, the fuel pump, and the AFM. Prior to that, the car had sat abandoned at a shop that did a lot of work to it for the previous owner.

Here's how the car looked when I picked it upó it's on wheels that my friend let me borrow because the factory steelies had such bad tires that they didn't hold air at all.





Looking over the car initially, I noted the following:

- New shocks all around, with KYB's in the rear and Sachs in the front, though the front shock mounts have cracked quite a bit from the car sitting.
- New control arms in the front
- Control arm bushings look to be not great
- Driveshaft has been rebuilt by a good local driveshaft shop
- Trans mounts are collapsed and cracking apart
- Brake pads and rotors appear to be relatively new, though a bit rusty from sitting.
- AC compressor has no belt and no lines going to it, because somebody was previously in the process of removing the AC system... you know, because racecar.
- It has the later M44 electric fan retrofitted in place of the mechanical clutch fan, a nice touch.
- It has a 4.44 LSD, which is absolutely insane and utterly useless on the highway, so I'll definitely be replacing that pretty soon.

Upon the initial test drive, the car started overheating in less than a mile, that's a good sign, right? I pulled over and let it cool off before driving it back to my friend's house where I assessed the cooling system. It never got past 3/4 so I wasn't too worried. I noted that the upper radiator hose felt cool to the touch while everything else was quite hot, so there was probably some blockage in the system.

Scrounging together parts at my friend's house, we found a new-in-box M44 water pump from his last E36 318i, a good used thermostat from an M50 car, and some RTV. Along with some basic hand tools, we had enough to fix the car right then and there.

Removing the upper hose from the thermostat housing, I immediately found the problem:



Both the upper hose and the thermostat housing outlet were blocked solid with chunky, crystallized coolant. The coolant was pink because the car had been worked on by a VW shop. It was actually kind of a relief to find something so obviously wrong.



After removing the thermostat housing, I was happy to see that the coolant blockage was only on one outlet, and that the thermostat itself looked fine. I pulled the thermostat out anyways, just to check behind it, and it was just normal clean coolant back there.

The water pump fought me quite a bit coming out, and a piece of it actually broke off because of how crusted up it was... but eventually after some rubber mallet action I was able to get the crusty old water pump out.



Everything went back together without any drama, and I filled the system with distilled water and some cheap blue coolant I bought at Walmart. It'll need a proper flush in the future anyways to get the pink crap out, but I just needed it to work for a bit. The heat worked great in the car, and the cooling system was able to be bled without any issues. The electric fan worked correctly as well, turning on the low and high speeds accordingly. With everything done, the coolant temp gauge now sits at a hair under middle, which is fine by me.

Driving the car 25 miles to my shop, I realized just how awful that 4.44 diff is... the RPM's are insane even at normal cruising speeds (75-80).



Aside from the diff nonsense, the car drove great, with the M42 pulling hard and the transmission shifting super smoothly. It's such a light little car, I can't wait to drive it more once it's a bit more sorted.

Stay tuned as I tackle the mess of an interior...
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Old 05-04-2022, 12:05 PM   #2
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That’s the worst blockage I’ve ever seen. But shows how important the correct coolant is in the E36. BMW issued a bulletin on it, due to “green goo” deposits forming.

Once you clear it, flush it well and use the BMW coolant. They have so many dissimilar metals in use it is really critical. I also suggest the Stewart water pump, especially if the one you put in is a plastic impeller.
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Old 05-04-2022, 04:09 PM   #3
dannyzabolotny
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J!m View Post
Thatís the worst blockage Iíve ever seen. But shows how important the correct coolant is in the E36. BMW issued a bulletin on it, due to ďgreen gooĒ deposits forming.

Once you clear it, flush it well and use the BMW coolant. They have so many dissimilar metals in use it is really critical. I also suggest the Stewart water pump, especially if the one you put in is a plastic impeller.

Pretty sure the pump I put in is a Graf with a metal impeller, those have been fine in my experience. Stewart pump would be nice for the extra flow on the track though, but Iím a while away from tracking this car, thereís so much that needs fixing first. I will be flushing the system out with proper BMW blue coolant, as thatís what I run in all my BMWís.
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Old 05-16-2022, 08:24 AM   #4
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While poking around the car, I noticed the parking brake did absolutely nothing, which makes sense since neither of the cables were hooked up. I tried hooking up the cables but found them to be too short, eventually figuring out that they are E36 non-TI parking brake cables, which wouldn't work. I've got the correct cables on order, they should be here later this week.

In the meantime, I threw my Apex wheels on the TI, since I had to give back the style 9's I was borrowing from my friend. It actually looks great on the Apex ARC-8's, which makes sense considering they're E36 spec wheels that I've been using on an E34.





The car definitely needs to be lowered, but it already looks a lot more aggressive with just the wheels.

Last week I was able to find a 3.64 open diff locally in the correct small-case E30 size. While it sucks that it's an open diff, 3.64 will be a much more practical ratio; plus I can always combine it with my 4.44 LSD to make a 3.64 LSD in the future.

Old 4.44 diff:



Very easy diff removal.





I did have to swap the output flanges to fit the axles, but that was super easy to do since they just snap in. With the flanges swapped, the diff bolted up super happily.



While underneath the car, I also found the source of my exhaust leak, which I'll have to get welded up at some point.



The trans mounts weren't look great, so they got swapped out.

Before:



During:



After:



Taking the TI on a road test, I immediately noticed how much more usable all of the gears were. It felt a lot more natural to have a 3.64, as it makes the gear spacing feel a lot closer to my E34 (which has a 3.23). The main benefit, however, is the much improved highway RPM:



4k at 80mph isn't ideal, but compared to the 5k I was cruising at before, it's a huge improvement. The replacement diff is nice and quiet as well.

Next up will be installing the new parking brake cables, shoes, and hardware. After that, I'll finally be able to reinstall the interior and give it all a good cleaning.
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Old 05-16-2022, 11:44 AM   #5
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Looking good so far!
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Old 05-18-2022, 05:49 AM   #6
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The parking brake cables finally arrived today... they were special order Genuine BMW parts, at like $54 each. A bit pricey, but I wanted working parking brake cables and didn't feel like waiting for a 318ti to come up in the yards.

Removing the existing parking brake cables and putting them next to the new ones, it was clear that the old cables were far too short. Here's the comparison between E36 parking brake cables and 318ti parking brake cables:





Installing them went pretty easily, the joys of working on rust-free southwest cars!



After adjusting the parking brakes at each wheel and then at the handle, I was rewarded with a tight, immensely satisfying parking brake that locks the rear wheels in 3 clicks. I love it when a plan comes together.



I know it's silly to get so excited about a working parking brake, but I have pretty high standards for all my cars and require every single thing to work before I do any fun/performance mods.
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Old 05-18-2022, 11:45 AM   #7
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It’s also nice not to have to rip the handle up 18 inches to get it to hold…
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Old Yesterday, 12:09 AM   #8
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Looks good man. I really like the ARC-8s. I would like to get a set after I put a few things back together.
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