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      01-14-2018, 03:06 AM   #1
FaRKle!
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Another EBII Diesel Wagon, Another Log!

I recently crossed the one year mark with my '17 328dx Wagon. When I think back on all the experiences I've had with the car, I'm astounded at how much I've learned over that period. For example, before getting this car, I really didn't know how to work on anything in a vehicle. Now, I can strip the interior by memory, and swap brakes for track days. This log catalogs the various things I've learned about my vehicle and its modifications.

But wait, don't we already have plenty of logs on Bimmerpost about other people's wagons, and even another EBII diesel wagon?

The thought had occurred to me, however I have a good amount of modifications and experiences that those other logs don't have. Besides, none of those logs are of MY car.

The Beginning
After waiting five months (July through Nov. 2016) for my 328dx Wagon order (thanks VW Dieselgate...), I finally picked up my new car from BMW Santa Barbara from none other than Jon Shafer (Bimmerfest founder)! Jon was a pleasure to work with and gave me a deal nobody else could meet. Bummer he's not in the business anymore.

Here's what the build had (most relevant/interesting parts anyways):
-328dx Wagon
-M-Sport package
-Estoril Blue II paint
-Adaptive-M Suspension
-Tech Package (HUD & Nav)

Looking at my previous vehicle next to my new one, some things are readily apparent:
1) I like hatchbacks.
2) I like blue.


Initial Changes/Mods
The day after I bought the car I took it to the tire shop by my office and swapped the run-flats on there for Continental DWS06 in 235/45-18. A coworker of mine needed new tires for his 3 series, and he was happy to buy my run-flats off of me for how much I paid for the DWS 06. Talk about convenient!

Immediately after getting the tires changed, I brought the car to Automall Tint in Fremont, CA. I wanted a tint that had a good balance of rejecting heat and maximizing visibility, essentially not looking like I had tint at all. I decided on Llumar Air 80 for this. Greg at Automall Tint did a great job with the install, and the tint works well. The car doesn't get "can't touch the steering wheel" hot in the summer, and I never feel the need to turn the AC past the first level in auto mode.

In the same complex as Automall tint is a detailer, Carzwerk. The owner, Jason, is a really stand-up guy. Jason has a chemical engineering background, and it shows because he really wants all of his customers/potential customers to really know the process of what they're getting and how to maintain it. I really appreciate how much passion Jason has for customer education, which enables you to maintain the cosmetic condition of your vehicle. Jason worked with Will, of Speed Shields, to do a PPF (Suntek) + Ceramic Pro coating. For ppf I decided to do the full front (including A-pillars), four doors, rocker panels, rear quarter splash area, and rear loading area strip.

Even before I took delivery of the vehicle I started to stock up on accessories for it. Over my five month waiting period I acquired the BMW/Weathertech floor liners, AutoTecknic painted front reflectors ($52.50 new on eBay), black BMW M-Performance grills ($90 new on eBay), and a dashcam setup.

I've been pretty happy with the floor liners. I do a lot of off-pavement/muddy driving and they do a good job of keeping the filth contained. One thing I started to notice though, was that the area behind the right ankle on some of my nice dress shoes started to get scratches. I found out that as I was lifting off of the pedals that area was making contact with the floor liner. Some seating position changes remedied that.

Installing painted reflectors always takes longer than videos/people say it does. If it's chilly/cold the adhesive really firms up and is difficult to work. I used a heat gun and isopropyl (IPA/rubbing alcohol) to slowly work the stock adhesive loose. My fingers were darn tired after doing this!

The M-Performance grills were a pretty straight forward install. I wouldn't listen to any guides that tell you to just break tabs and yank the existing grills out. It's really not that hard to unbolt the top of the bumper from the engine bay and reach your arm behind it to release the tabs.


For the dashcam, I went with the Thinkware F770 along with a Cellink Battery B. I got both from Blackboxmycar.com during their Black Friday sale. I subscribe to the "it only takes one event for it to pay for itself," school of thought. It also works decently for recording things like track days. For the memory card I went with a 128gb Samsung EVO+ card. I haven't had any issues with that combo and the dashcam prompts me to format the memory card about once a month (just have to hit the "format" button). One thing to be aware of with the F770 is that the buttons can rattle. To mitigate this I put some clear packing tape over them. Janky, I know, but cheap and effective. Being in California, I've captured lots of footage of crappy drivers, and maybe one of these days I'll submit something to one of those "USA Car Crashes" Youtube channels.

Given that the holidays (and associated break) were coming up shortly after I got my car, I decided I would teach myself how to code the vehicle. Coming from an EE background the concept was really simple to me, "Find text file, find text parameter, and change the parameter value." The most difficult part ended up being configuring the program correctly, but even that wasn't really difficult. The documentation and guides out there are quite good. It's really amazing how much more convenient you can make the car by just coding simple things such as doors unlocking when engine is shut off, folding mirrors upon locking, and being able to roll up windows with the doors open.

Dyno Time, and Crashing an Audi Party
One thing I was really curious about after getting the car was what the actual power was. It's super hard to find an AWD dyno in the Bay Area that's open on weekends, but I just happened to get lucky and find a shop close to my office, 034 Motorsports, that was having a dyno day on a Saturday in January. I called them, got the details, and signed up for a slot.

When the day came, I drove over to 034 Motorsports, and to my surprise, found the parking lot FULL of Audis. I'm sure I felt similar to a whore in church as I crept through the parking lot past many awkward stares. Apparently this "dyno day" was part of the Audi Club of North America (ACNA, basically Audi's BMW CCA) Golden Gate Chapter's "Audi Winterfest." Apparently in Audi-land, 034 Motorsports is kind of like Dinan is to BMW, and they're one of ANCA's premier sponsors. I ended up getting an 034 Motorsports shirt with my dyno runs, which would come in handy for blending in...

034 Motorsports has a Mustang AWD dyno. I guess this brand is known as the "heart-breaker" for measuring lower outputs than other dyno brands. It certainly had that effect when I looked at my dyno runs. The highest run came out at 143hp and 217lb-ft of torque at the wheels. A far cry from the advertised 180hp and 280lb-ft. Looks like xDrive has a lot of losses!


New Shoes
I happen to like shoes, especially nice shoes. Shell cordovan is my weakness and one of these days I'll have the complete shell rainbow of Alden's plain-toe bluchers (PTB). Oh, wait, I'm on Bimmerpost, not Styleforum... Right.

After getting blacked out grills on the 328dx wagon, the silver 400m wheels just looked out of place. I began the search for a set of black rims. Eventually I stumbled upon pics of the 18" 405m wheel (probably on here) and was immediately sold! I began to look for them and became dismayed for a couple of reasons, the first being they're a pretty rare wheel in the USA, and second, they're pricey! Thankfully I had made a connection at my local dealership and they were able to get me them at a more than reasonable price. Seriously, take care of your local dealership people, and they will take care of you!

After getting the wheels I dropped them off with Jason at Carzwerk for a ceramic coating. They came out looking great!

400m

18" 405m


Ultiminate Driving Machine?
Given BMW's slogan, it was natural that many of my friends/family would ask me, "So is it really the ultimate driving machine?" I would always feel a bit embarrassed when asked this, because I could never say with confidence, "Yes, it is." The fact was (and still is), the base xDrive suspension isn't worthy of the BMW brand. I remembered test driving wagons with the base xDrive suspension, and thinking to myself, "Why the hell would I buy this? This is worse than my Mazda 3!" Even with the Adaptive-M suspension, I wasn't really impressed. Comfort mode was too disconnected from the road for me, and Sport mode, while better and tolerable, never satisfied me with the connected feel I looked for. I knew the suspension would require some changes.

Luckily for me, around the time I was thinking that the suspension needed improvement, Dinan dropped the price of their Shockware to $200. This would change the profile for the electronic dampers and stiffen them up. I scheduled an appointment to have it installed at my local dealer, and was super glad I did! My first thought after getting in the car after it was done was, "This is how it should've come from the factory!" The ride was much more planted and it felt like the body roll was much reduced. Some people thought that it was too rough for daily driving, but I find the Sport mode to be just right (I still do my off-pavement driving in Sport mode). The one downside, is that it essentially made the original Sport profile the Comfort profile, which isn't comfortable enough, and not sporty enough, so essentially useless. Overall, this made the car much more enjoyable.

Along with this I saw the thread here about the CPM mid-chassis reinforcement plate. It also came up in that thread that you could just buy the F80/82 plate for about $20 and use that instead. For about $30, I figured, "What not?" and ordered the longer bolts and plate to see if it would do anything to stiffen up the chassis. One interesting thing I found out, is that the CPM instructions say to torque the bolts to 30Nm (22ft-lbs), but the stock bolts holding the original brace on there are torqued to nowhere near that (much less). I put the F80 brace between the stock brace and the car. I honestly couldn't tell from daily driving if this made any improvement, but it was my first time getting under the car.

Mid-Chassis Brace, F80 Brace Between Stock and Car


Interior Trim - Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
When roll_the_dice showcased his his SWEET self-done carbon fiber interior, I was blown away! "I have to try that too!" I thought to myself. Unfortunately, I've never worked with real carbon fiber before, but I knew there were lots of carbon fiber vinyls out there, and decided that I would teach myself how to wrap with that. Researching different CF wraps, I settled on VViViD Vinyl's Epoxy wrap. I bought a 18"x60" roll. That was plenty for all the interior trim, and there was even enough for re-doing my steering wheel trim. As for the vinyl itself, I wasn't terribly happy with VViViD's product. It got stretch marks too easily, and didn't hold very well. I used a heat gun to apply it and not a hair dryer. Additionally, the Epoxy CF vinyl looks pretty flat unless at an angle. In the end, I wasn't satisfied with the look and looked for another CF vinyl.

Real CF Left, VViViD Epoxy CF Vinyl Right.


After scouring more CF vinyl threads on Bimmerpost to see what other people were using, I decided to try Teckwrap's 4D CF vinyl. It came in a 2'x5' roll, and was cheaper than VViViD. Verdict? It's excellent! The Techwrap vinyl was easier to work with, stuck better, and the pattern is much better than VViViD Epoxy. Each of the weaves has texture in the squares so it looks much more realistic.

To paint the interior trim pieces I wanted something I could experiment with, but not cause a permanent change. The various pieces that I did in EBII actually have a layer of white plastidip underneath. For the EBII color I used Scratch Wizard's touch up spray paint followed by regular Rustoleum clear coat. The regular paints/clear on top of plastidip makes it so you can't peel it off in one big pieces, but you can still scrape it off without damage to the surface underneath.

My roll_the_dice Imitated Interior


One other thing I tried were those "stick on" carbon fiber pieces. Bimmian happened to be looking for testers for a kit and I joined. The pieces are supposed to stick on top of your existing trim via 3m tape. Unfortunately, this kit fit terribly! The iDrive surround piece didn't have a large enough cutout for the iDrive controller, and typically the edges were too long so the kept the main surface from making contact with the substrate. I haven't trusted anything with this method since...

Bimmerfest 2017
This year was the first year I attended Bimmerfest. I wanted to get the "whole experience" so I joined the caravan that starts in Seattle, WA and grows along the way down. It was awesome being part of a long line of cars. Unfortunately, the caravan wasn't without casualties. One fellow with a Z3 roadster I met at the San Jose rally point wrecked shortly after we got onto 101 in South San Jose. Remember to check your blind spots!!!

Bimmerfest attempt at Most BMW's on a Track Record (we failed)


Just before Bimmerfest I got Dinan's diesel Sport tuner. I played with the various settings for a week or two, and then just left it on Sport+ for the trip down to SoCal. One thing that interested me at Bimmerfest was the dyno runs you could do. I wanted to see just what the Dinan Sport tuner was doing and signed up for a slot. The dyno operator (MCE) was super cool and gave me a bunch of runs so I could have multiple data points for a couple of profiles. Unfortunately, they weren't able to measure my torque numbers, but were able to get horsepower. Surprisingly, the Sport+, not Race modes on the Dinan Sport produced the highest horsepower numbers. One Race profile run showed a short spike in power, before dropping off, and the other one pretty much just followed the stock profile. The max gain was only 8-9hp... After that trip I decided to remove the Dinan sport tuner, since it wasn't really doing anything (and I couldn't feel it from my butt dyno either). One interesting point to note, is that the stock horsepower number from the Dynojet dyno at Bimmerfest wasn't that far off (~5hp) from the value on the Mustang at 034 Motorsports.

Bimmerfest Dyno Numbers

On the Dyno at Bimmerfest


Another highlight of Bimmerfest was meeting up with fellow member Johnny250 and seeing his EBII diesel wagon after reading his log. It'll be interesting to see where we go different on mods. I can say for sure that his exhaust mod is unique for 328d's.

After Bimmerfest, I decided to stay in SoCal for a few more days and went to Palm Springs. I did a couple of short driving experiences at the BMW Performance Center in Thermal, and was sold on trying to take a class there in the future, little did I know that would be sooner than I imagined.

A Mod Crazy July Fourth!
Over the summer I went a bit crazy with mods. I really just wanted to pull everything apart to see how it all worked/went together, and that was all the excuse I needed to buy more stuff to add while it was apart.

On the way back from Bimmerfest I stopped off in Covina to check out an M-Performance diffuser replica that I saw on eBay. It looked good enough, and I picked it up for $100. When I got back to the Bay Area, I had it painted with EBII on the sides/top and gloss black in the fin area. Seeing the raw plastic diffuser on cars, bothers me for some irrational reason, it just doesn't look complete/finished to me. Painting was an additional $250, so all in all it was still cheaper than the official diffuser. Originally, I was going to try and paint it myself with Scratch Wizard spray paint again. I read how paint doesn't stick to PE plastics well due to the weak surface bonds, and release agents they use to get the plastics out of the molds. I read about flame treating (running a flame from a propane torch over the surface) to sweat the release agents out and break the surface bonds of the plastic so there are more dangling bonds for the paint to stick to. It was crazy seeing just how much release agent was coming out of the plastic! After doing this, and thinking about how I was going to mask off the sections for painting, I decided it was worth it to just pay the pros to do it. The fit from this particular diffuser was pretty good. One of the sides didn't lock completely, but the bolts holding it to the bumper allowed me to align it just fine.

Original M-Sport Bumper Trim

Painted M-Performance Diffuser


Although the group buys closed in the winter/spring, BimmerTech's comfort access and soft-close door retrofits weren't released until summer. This was the first time pulling apart my doors (I would go back and do this MANY times in the future). I got the comfort access (CA) kit because I wanted to add that feature to my rear doors, as the fronts already had the BMW CA system. I was hoping to set it up so that if I used the CA on the driver's door, only the driver's door would unlock, and if I wanted to unlock all doors I could just use the rear passenger handle. Soft close doors just looked friggin cool, and I had had some times where I thought I closed my driver's door, but hadn't and got a rude jerk from the car as it shifted to park while I was reversing because of that.

BimmerTech CA and Soft Close Kits


Since it was my first time pulling apart a lot of my trim, it took multiple days to install these kits. Thank God I did it over the long July 4th weekend, as I needed almost all of it! You definitely need to be careful when installing certain parts, and will have to figure out other parts because the car in the installation video might not have the same parts/configuration as yours. Also, if doing the soft close doors, REMOVE YOUR DRIVER'S DOOR KEY LOCK CYLINDER! The installation video didn't do that or mention a risk of it, and I ended up breaking the rod that connects the key cylinder to the door latch when pulling out the stock unit.. This part isn't sold alone, and the cheapest I've seen an assembly is $70... Yeah, I still haven't gotten around to buying a new one.

Remove this Before Removing the Driver's Door Latch!


In the end I'm SUPER happy with the soft close doors. Definitely one of my favorite and most appreciated mods. Unfortunately, the CA kit never worked right. What ended up happening is if I unlocked and opened the car using the BMW OEM CA on the front doors, the alarm would sound. Eventually BimmerTech and I decided that this wasn't going to work with my car, and I uninstalled the kit and returned it to them for a full refund. Shout out to their support guy Maciej for being so helpful!

To be continued...
-Log entry 2
-Log entry 3
-Log entry 4

Last edited by FaRKle!; 01-28-2018 at 04:44 PM.
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      01-14-2018, 03:51 AM   #2
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      01-14-2018, 07:10 PM   #3
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      01-14-2018, 09:17 PM   #4
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One of my favorite cosmetic features of the M3/M4 are the winged mirrors. They look nice, aggressive, and their shape flows well with the body. I had seen a bunch of carbon fiber mirror caps to replicate the look, but I didn't want carbon fiber. I wanted caps that matched the body color. Eventually on eBay I found out there are two styles of caps, Style 1 and Style 2.

Style 2 (left), Style 1 (right) Mirror Caps


Style 1 caps have softer edges, and are made of a glass reinforced plastic. It's a bit ductile, dense, and very sturdy. I started off with Style 1 caps, because I wasn't aware of Style 2 at the time. To get the caps to match my EBII body color, I wet sanded the original gloss black paint, and then primered and painted it with the Scratch Wizard spray paint again. This time, for clear coat I tried Scratch Wizard's spray paint clear coat. I was fairly happy with the result, but something just didn't seem right with these caps. Their shape didn't seem to flow with the lines of the car as well as I had hoped.

While searching eBay for other mirror caps, I noticed Style 2, and its subtle differences. I ordered it to see in person how it compared, and when it arrived I was very pleased with the shape. I'm not sure why Style 2 caps are more expensive than Style 1. They're made of a much lighter and more brittle ABS plastic. I accidentally broke one of the tabs that secures it to the mirror housing because of how brittle it is. I painted this cap the same way as the previous one. One thing I'd do next time is use a different clear coat. While I've been happy with Scratch Wizard's spray paint, their clear coat just doesn't hold up well. I'll probably have these mirror caps professionally painted next time.

HALT!
I was always kind of annoyed that the M-Sport brake kit wasn't an option for the 328d wagon (it is for the 330i wagon). It was something that I had been thinking of adding, but had refrained from since I had no experience working with brakes before. One day while browsing eBay I found a set from a salvaged 2016 340i. Apparently it was salvaged with only 20miles on it. The price was $1200 shipped, and eBay was running a promotion for an additional $100 off. I decided to order it and learn how to install brakes.

When the brakes came I saw that everything was pretty much new, and there was just a bit of grime/rust from sitting out in the yard. I sent the calipers over to Carzwerk again for some clean up and ceramic coating (WOW those came out looking great compared to how I received them), and the rotors I treated myself. I took a tub and used a couple of gallons of white vinegar to get the rust off. I also used a stiff bristled brush (the kind that come in a car wash kit, but you should never actually use to wash your car unless you want scratches in your clear coat galore!) to brush the rust off after letting the rotors sit in the vinegar for 20-30min. One side effect of this, is that whatever anti-rust coating was along the periphery of the rotor, and inside the vanes, also came off in the vinegar. To replace that, I grabbed some high-temp BBQ paint in the same silver color from the hardware store and coated the rotor with that. I'm pleased to say that it's held up well.

Stock Front Rotor (left), 370mm Front M-Sport Rotor (right)

Stock RearRotor (left), 345mm Rear M-Sport Rotor (right)


Installing the brakes was quite a learning experience. Just seeing the difference in how fixed vs floating calipers worked was interesting. New TIS was a huge help in finding the procedures, torque specs, and tips (like how to close off the master cylinder so fluid doesn't leak out when you disconnect the brake lines). I had one scary moment when my jack partially slipped off of the front center jack point. Upon further inspection, that jack point is slightly curved on the front of it, which allowed my jack to slip since it wasn't far back enough. It also took me a while to figure the best angles to get to the bolts on the backside of the calipers. There's a lot of stuff in the way there, and getting leverage to break the bolts loose (or tighten them) was difficult. I ended up using both my jack and a longer 2"x4" to get the leverage I needed on things like a ratchet and torque wrench. It was also difficult working within the dimensions of the wheel well since my breaker bar was too long. It was at that point I decided I'd need a better jack/lift setup so I could be under the car when trying to work on this stuff.

One funny experience during the brake swap was I darn near flushed an entire system's worth of brake fluid just trying to bleed the first caliper. I kept seeing air bubbles when I'd open the bleeder screw wide open. Later I'd find out that by opening the bleeder screw that much, air was getting in through the threads. Doh!

On a related note, having a single-person bleeder (like the Motive or Schwaben) is a huge help! I got the Motive, but kind of wish I had bought the Schwaben instead due to it's quick disconnect. I used the method where you don't fill the bleeder with fluid, and instead only use it to pressurize the master cylinder reservoir. When the master cylinder reservoir gets low, remove the bleeder cap from it and refill it. This leaves a lot less mess to clean up. One thing I'll probably do in the future is get the premium aluminum cap. I had issues with the stock plastic cap popping off sometimes under pressure (I was SUPER glad I didn't fill the bleeder with brake fluid when that happened). To prevent that, I don't pressurize the system past 20PSI anymore.

Original Front Brake Assembly

M-Sport 370mm Front Brake Assembly


So what were my impressions of the new M-Sport brakes? They will stop you HARD! Interestingly, the first bit of pedal travel doesn't give you much feedback, but then the pads really grab! The one downside to the M-Sport brakes is they produce a TON of dust. Thank god I have black wheels, or I'm sure I'd look like some of those BMWs where you notice the front wheels are distinctly darker than the rear! If I washed the car on a weekend, by the following weekend they'd look FILTHY again!

QuickJack (not a personal product)
Given my earlier realization of needing a better jack/lift setup, I started to look at home/portable options. The finalists ended up being the EZ Car Lift and QuickJack. Luckily for me, I have coworkers that own both of these products and got to check them both out. In addition to being cheaper, I liked how the QuickJack doesn't require a cross member connecting both skids. That makes maneuvering it much easier. I picked up my QuickJack from eBay for $1240 shipped during another $100 off promo period.

QuickJack Hydraulic Unit

QuickJack All the Way Up (rear)

QuickJack All the Way Up (side)


The QuickJack consists of a hydraulic unit, hoses, and the two skids. The hydraulic system connects using no-spill quick disconnects. It's really easy to set it up and maneuver it. In my pics you'll notice that I have the skids on cardboard (the boxes that the skids arrived in). One complaint my coworker had was that the paint on the skids gets all scratched up from sliding around on concrete. Keeping the skids on the cardboard prevents that, and helps me slide the skid under the car more easily.

Why xDrive?
Various people have asked me, "Why did you go xDrive (AWD)?" Well, for one, the wagons only come in xDrive, and two, I actually do a good amount of non-pavement driving.

One of my good friends has a ranch. I'm frequently there helping with things and hanging out. After the rains. the dirt road leading up the hill gets quite muddy. Once in my Mazda 3 I didn't make it up through the mud and had to reverse down the hill. By the time I reached the base of the hill, my rear wheel wells had accumulated so much mud, that as I drove towards the ranch exit/paved road my rear wheels weren't even spinning, just dragging along! I'm happy to say xDrive has performed will in these situations and I can confidently tackle the road when it rains.

At the Ranch (midway up the hill)

Looking Further Up the Hill

The Ladies at the Ranch Always Check out the Wagon


In addition to the ranch, I'm usually going to some open space on the weekends to hike around and hang out. Some of my favorite places are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in the Sierrra Nevada foothills and Panoche Hills. There's a myriad of terrain from dry creek beds to super fine desert dust (that crap gets into EVERYTHING). The wagon has performed admirably.

Panoche Hills & Desert Dust


The Most Fun I'll Never Want to Have Again
Or something to that effect...

Another roll_the_dice mod I replicated was contrast seat stitching. The timing of his post was excellent, as I had recently checked out an M2, noticed the blue contrast stitching, and thought it looked awesome! Unlike roll_the_dice though, I went with a thicker thread that pops more.

Working all of the stitching by hand was incredibly tedious. I definitely had to remove all the various pieces (seats, bench, seat backs, and e-brake cover) from my car as doing this in the summer while the garage was in the 90-100's would've killed me! One thing I learned is that you'll get an airbag code if you disconnect the front seat connector before the car is fully shut off after 20min. Thankfully I have a Schwaben OBDII BMW unit to clear codes, so I didn't have to wait that long.

It may have taken me more than 80hrs, but I'm very happy with the way the stitching came out. The trick to getting clean ends is to make a knot at the end of each line of stitching, then tuck the excess thread back into the seam line under the leather, pop out in another location along the seam line, snip the excess, and tuck the remaining tail back under the leather. It really does look like the seats came that way from the factory. The feedback I've received on it has been great too. Compliments, all around.

Driver's Seat Stitching

Rear Seat Stitching


While working on the stitching on my rear headrests, I began to wonder whether I could get all three in a folding format versus just the middle one. Consulting RealOEM, I saw that the 2-series cars came with rear folding headrests that are the same as those used in the 3-series (in countries where that's an option). Unfortunately, finding the headrests from a salvaged 2-series wasn't very easy given how new they are. I finally found a pair, at a price that was a bit higher than I liked, but ended up getting them. After adding contrast stitching and putting them in the car, I like how the rear matches better. It also helps that the visibility through the rear view mirror is improved.

Rear Folding Headrests


Taking Advantage of Brexit!
Once over the summer when I stopped by Carzwerk I saw an M2 that Jason was working on for another customer. This M2 had the new "M-Performance v2" steering wheel, which has a flat bottom, alcantara on the sides, and full-grain leather on the tops and bottoms. It seems the going rate for this wheel is about $750 in the US, not including the carbon fiber trim. I found this wheel new from a BMW dealership in the UK on eBay, and after the GBP to USD conversion, ended up only being $600 after shipping!

M-Sport (left) and M-Performance v2 (right) Steering Wheel Cores


If you've come across some of my posts regarding BMW leather, you'll find me complaining a lot. The stock M-Sport steering wheel has really poor quality leather. Coming from the high-end shoe scene, the "Nappa" leather on the M-Sport wheel is an embarrassment. It's corrected grain leather, where they sand off the top layer of the leather, and then coat it with various materials. This is typically done to lower-quality hides because the hide surface had imperfections. You can tell full grain from corrected grain by looking for the follicles in the leather. I could never figure out why the leather on my e-brake handle was full grain, while the steering wheel was corrected grain. It felt cheap and fake.

Another one of my pet peaves is how alcantara is billed as a "premium" material in the automotive sector. Alcantara is nothing more than synthetic (fake) suede leather, because real suede is too expensive (and understandably more effort to care for that most are willing). Even still, when I asked people how they liked their M-Performance steering wheels at car meets, most complained about how quickly the alcantara got dirty and how much of a hassle it was to clean it. Once again, my shoe maintenance experience would help me. For suede shoes, it's common to use a protecting spray, such as Tarrago. These sprays prevent dirt/filth/liquids from sticking/absorbing to the suede, while not diminishing the soft feel. I treated the alcantara on my wheel with Allen Edmonds suede protector.

M-Sport Steering Wheel

M-Performance v2 Steering Wheel


If you're looking at the wheels and thinking that the M-Performance wheel looks thicker, you're right. It is a bit thicker on the alcantara region, and has an interesting oval/football cross section on the upper area. There are also finger grooves on the backside of the upper portion. One positive I wasn't considering beforehand, is that alcantara doesn't get cold like leather does. I didn't order my vehicle with the heated steering wheel, and with the M-Sport wheel sometimes I'd think that it might've been nice to have it, but I haven't had that thought since getting the M-Performance wheel.

More to come...

Last edited by FaRKle!; 01-14-2018 at 09:26 PM.
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      01-15-2018, 03:31 PM   #5
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Nice build so far - that stitching job looks really tedious, wow.

Can you share part numbers for the head rests?

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      01-15-2018, 05:16 PM   #6
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love the steering wheel! Worth it to move from M sport to the v2? Are there other options for wheel trims if i don't want carbon?
I don't have anything else that is carbon fiber on my car.
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      01-16-2018, 02:14 AM   #7
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This car is a 2017? I mean havenít you voided the warranty on almost everything?
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      01-16-2018, 01:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloy View Post
Nice build so far - that stitching job looks really tedious, wow.

Can you share part numbers for the head rests?

Here's the RealOEM page for the folding headrest part numbers (item #1 in the figure). For the black dakota leather with black stitching, the part number I searched was 52207291129.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdwalls View Post
love the steering wheel! Worth it to move from M sport to the v2? Are there other options for wheel trims if i don't want carbon?
I don't have anything else that is carbon fiber on my car.
I wasn't much of a fan of the cheap feeling leather on the M-Sport wheel, so the M-Performance v2 wheel was definitely worth it for me.

My carbon steering wheel trim is actually the stock trim from my M-Sport wheel that I wrapped in CF vinyl and painted the silver "Y" part EBII. You can use your existing trim if you want..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clarkwgrizwald View Post
This car is a 2017? I mean havenít you voided the warranty on almost everything?
Nope . I've gone in for two warranty repairs within the last year so far. The first was due to an injector on cyl 1 going bad, and the second was for a cross/misthreaded bolt hole in my trunk that my rear support bar mounts to (I didn't realize that issue till I tried removing the cargo mount there, and realizing it was loose due to the poor original threading).

In both cases my local dealership said, "No problem!" and handled the repairs smoothly and quickly. Like I said in one of my earlier posts, take care of your local dealership service folks, and they'll take care of you!
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      01-16-2018, 02:10 PM   #9
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Wow! Nice wagon build / mods. I share you love of long roofs and blue If only they imported the M5 touring to N America, I could just buy stock and be happy.

I looked at 3 series wagons and just couldn't get excited about the hp/torque numbers. Especially coming off of this guy as my current ride, but looking at your build, I'm thinking there still might be hope for a wagon replacement.

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      01-16-2018, 05:37 PM   #10
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Looking good. Amazing amount of work! I want the rear diffuser but will probably keep matt black to match my decals. The grey trim now looks out of place. That's said floss black may be better to match the roof bars and window trim!
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      01-17-2018, 01:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papajohn View Post
Wow! Nice wagon build / mods. I share you love of long roofs and blue If only they imported the M5 touring to N America, I could just buy stock and be happy.

I looked at 3 series wagons and just couldn't get excited about the hp/torque numbers. Especially coming off of this guy as my current ride, but looking at your build, I'm thinking there still might be hope for a wagon replacement.

Nice! Those E61s are still head turners. I stare at one of my coworker's every time I pass it in the parking lot. I really feel like the E60 looks dated (mainly the rear half), but the E61 still looks fresh!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MSCD View Post
Looking good. Amazing amount of work! I want the rear diffuser but will probably keep matt black to match my decals. The grey trim now looks out of place. That's said floss black may be better to match the roof bars and window trim!
Thanks!. The nice part with the diffuser is you can always run it raw first, then paint it later. Installation is super easy with a couple of sockets and a Harbor Freight trim removal kit (something like $5-$8). Don't even have to jack the car up to install it.
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      01-17-2018, 02:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaRKle! View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by papajohn View Post
Wow! Nice wagon build / mods. I share you love of long roofs and blue If only they imported the M5 touring to N America, I could just buy stock and be happy.

I looked at 3 series wagons and just couldn't get excited about the hp/torque numbers. Especially coming off of this guy as my current ride, but looking at your build, I'm thinking there still might be hope for a wagon replacement.

Nice! Those E61s are still head turners. I stare at one of my coworker's every time I pass it in the parking lot. I really feel like the E60 looks dated (mainly the rear half), but the E61 still looks fresh!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MSCD View Post
Looking good. Amazing amount of work! I want the rear diffuser but will probably keep matt black to match my decals. The grey trim now looks out of place. That's said floss black may be better to match the roof bars and window trim!
Thanks!. The nice part with the diffuser is you can always run it raw first, then paint it later. Installation is super easy with a couple of sockets and a Harbor Freight trim removal kit (something like $5-$8). Don't even have to jack the car up to install it.
Thanks- I had read it is easy to install. Have the trim tools and a socket set... just the diffuser needed. I might price out the OEM at a few locations. Seen it in the $370 range.
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      01-17-2018, 02:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papajohn View Post
Wow! Nice wagon build / mods. I share you love of long roofs and blue If only they imported the M5 touring to N America, I could just buy stock and be happy.

I looked at 3 series wagons and just couldn't get excited about the hp/torque numbers. Especially coming off of this guy as my current ride, but looking at your build, I'm thinking there still might be hope for a wagon replacement.

Great car. Saw a blue one on Monday....
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      01-17-2018, 02:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSCD View Post
Thanks- I had read it is easy to install. Have the trim tools and a socket set... just the diffuser needed. I might price out the OEM at a few locations. Seen it in the $370 range.
Honestly, I'd just look for the replica. They're about $120 on eBay. There's a thread here somewhere of people saying which ones are good (I got mine from seller europartsautostore). Even with the slight non-fitment on mine, you wouldn't be able to tell unless you explicitly knew what to look for and were up close. Even standing a yard back or so you wouldn't be able to tell.
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      01-17-2018, 04:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaRKle! View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by MSCD View Post
Thanks- I had read it is easy to install. Have the trim tools and a socket set... just the diffuser needed. I might price out the OEM at a few locations. Seen it in the $370 range.
Honestly, I'd just look for the replica. They're about $120 on eBay. There's a thread here somewhere of people saying which ones are good (I got mine from seller europartsautostore). Even with the slight non-fitment on mine, you wouldn't be able to tell unless you explicitly knew what to look for and were up close. Even standing a yard back or so you wouldn't be able to tell.
I'll take a look. I have read about the fitment. Thanks!
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      01-19-2018, 03:25 AM   #16
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Really nice progress
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      01-20-2018, 10:11 PM   #17
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Reducing Ambient Noise
One of the more annoying traits of my car was the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). This became more apparent when I had Dinan Shockware installed, giving myself a stiffer ride. I started to notice more creaks, rattles, and road noise in general.

To combat the NVH I tried the popular Dynamat. I covered both the outer skin of the doors as well as the inner frame of it in dynamat. I didn't have a roller, but did use the back rounded end of a screwdriver to apply pressure across it after hitting it with my heat gun. With just the Dynamat alone, I really didn't see any improvement in NVH, which was disappointing.

As I did more research, I found that Dynamat is primarily made to dampen vibrations, not necessarily block any noise. I would need a blocking material (mass loaded vinyl - MLV) to really reduce the noise. While looking for MLV I came across Second Skin Audio's Luxury Liner Pro (LLP), which is MLV on a mat of foam.

Unlike Dynamat, LLP doesn't have any adhesive on it, and actually functions better when allowed some movement. I figured I could hang it on the door frame, between the inner frame and door card. To do this I grabbed some heavy duty hook and loop and attached one side to the door, just beneath where the window opening is, and the other to the LLP to hang it from there. After hanging the sheet of LLP, I cut it in the shape of the door card, then made cutouts for the door card mounting pins, and various cables that'd have to be routed through. When I tried to put the door card on, I found out that I couldn't do it. The LLP wasn't as flexible as I thought and was putting up resistance. To remedy this, I made relief cuts in the LLP where features of the door card were applying more pressure. This worked well and allowed me to get the door cards on.

Initially bought enough LLP to just do the doors, and if that showed a decent improvement I'd probably buy more to do the floors. Unlike Dynamat, LLP definitely reduced the ambient noise in the cabin. I could easily hear conversations in the vehicle better. I was happy enough with the level of improvement, that I actually decided I didn't need to do the floors. LLP and Dynamat are fairly heavy stuff, and you can end up adding a bunch of weight if you try and apply it everywhere. Keep that in mind!

Rattles
After learning to take apart my door cards, I noticed that some of the rattles I was hearing was from the plastic pins that hold the door card to the door frame. These pins snap into a plastic claw-type opening, but once they're in there they can rattle around. I shimmed the excess space between the clips and the door card mount, and this surprisingly reduced a lot of rattles.

Similarly, I found that some of the footwell trim pieces use the same clips for mounting. Those too got the shim treatment and improved.

Another annoying rattle I found was in my dash trim (the large main piece). One of the metal mounting pins in it wasn't secured well. Some glue fixed that one.

The funniest rattle I had wasn't actually with the car itself, but with an accessory I put on it. I kept hearing this rattle up high, and thought it was something in the sunroof track. One day, I decided to watch some of my dashcam footage, and heard the rattle very clearly. I then realized that the buttons on my dash cam (Thinkware F770) were rattling! Some clear packing tape put lightly over the buttons (so they can still be depressed and return) solved that one!

Creaks
Like many others with M-Sport trim, I had creaking coming from the rubber door trim rubbing on the black piano trim lining the doors. I mentioned this during a dealer service visit once, and they applied felt tape to the rubber trim on my door.

Recently I found out where a creak, that sounds like a rattle, is coming from. For some reason when my front windows are rolled all the way up, the glass and rubber contact at the top causes a creaking. If I lower my windows a couple of millimeters, such that the windows are still closed and sealed (no change in wind noise), the creaking goes away. I'm going to see if I can find some rubber treatment to prevent this.

Chassis Stiffening
In an effort to stiffen my chassis further I decided to try a front and rear strut/support bar. There's been plenty debate on the forums whether this really does anything, and I wanted to see for myself. After seeing BEM-S4's post on them, I decided to go with the KC Design front and rear bars. KC Design was super easy to work with over email and the items arrived quickly from Taiwan.

KC Design Front Strut Bar


Installing the front bar is very easy and straight forward. BMW's documents show the front LCI bolt torque to be 30nm + 90deg, however when I was loosening all the bolts, none of them required close to 30nm of break torque, hrm...

KC Design Rear Bar


The rear bar has some peculiarities for it's install, and I ran into a couple of issues I had to solve during it. When removing the rear cargo mounts to install the rear bar, I found a factory issue, and another source of rattling. It appears as if the factory didn't thread the hole straight, and then cross threaded the cargo mount bolt in it. It actually crushed the threads on the bolt. The cargo mount ring that the bolt is supposed to hold down could rattle around since the bolt never secured it fully. To fix this I mentioned this issue to my dealership during my next visit and they re-threaded the hole properly under warranty. KC Design provides two standoff shims/cylinders to put between the rear mounting holes and the bar. This is to elevate the bar above the rear cargo area trim. On my vehicle these shims were far too short. I went to the hardware store and bought washers to get the appropriate height. Additionally, the bolts supplied with the bar were a bit too short. I ended up getting 45-50mm long bolts, which will allow you to place the original cargo mount ring on top of the bar, and bolt both down.

KC Design Rear Bar Mount (note hint of washer peeking out underneath the black cylinder and factory cargo ring on top)


So how much did the bars change the ride? I'm happy to say that the front bar produced a very noticeable difference. When cornering harder the front end of the vehicle feels more solid and predictable. Additionally, it seemed to improve the steering feel a bit too. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the rear bar. I really don't notice any difference with it.

Alignment
In anticipation for an upcoming track day I decided to have the car's alignment changed over the holidays. Earlier in the year I attended a BMW CCA tech session at Edge Motorworks, in Mountain View, where I learned about the effects that an alignment can have and how you'd want to do it for different types of driving. I went back to Edge Motorworks and asked them to align my vehicle for better performance.

They maxed out my front camber, which was only about -0.6deg , reduced the front toe, and reduced the rear toe and camber.

Edge Motorworks Alignment Values


During the BMW CCA tech talk, another member said that the alignment had "transformed" his car's handling. With that high bar in mind, I hopped into my car after Edge Motorworks had finished and, felt underwhelmed. I didn't really notice an immediate difference driving through Mountain View to my next stop. It wasn't until I got on the freeway that I noticed a clear difference. There was much less understeer when going around corners and I had a "eureka" moment. It almost felt unnatural at first, but as I got used to it, I became glad I had this done.

Diesel Fuel Economy
I recently passed the one-year mark with my vehicle just before the holidays. Over that period I drove about 21,000mi, and averaged 35.28mpg. The highest fuel economy I got was 39.94mpg, and the worst was 30.58mpg. I'm sure if I restrained myself to cruising at 75mph instead of 80mph on the freeway I'd improve those numbers.

Crashing an Audi Party, Part II!
One of my coworkers tracks a lot (Cayman GT4), and has been trying to get me out to an event with him. He's a member of the Audi Club, and convinced me to go with him to their Winterfest weekend at Thunder Hill.

You can check out my log/after action report (AAR) of two days at Thunder Hill here.

Photos Makes a Slow Car Look Fast


When I showed up at the event I was wearing my M-School jacket, but underneath I had the 034 Motorsport shirt I got last year at their Winterfest dyno day. My was surprised I had the shirt, and I told him the story of how I crashed the Audi party last year and got it.

My Instructor (Audi TT RS)


The Audi club is a great bunch of guys and very good at helping you learn in an HPDE environment. I wish the BMW CCA GGC did more HPDEs and was better organized (they STILL don't have any upcoming events on their website/Facebook!).

The Dirty Secret to Ceramic Pro's Warranty
One of the stipulations of Ceramic Pro's warranty is that you have an annual inspection done. The warranty states that the Cermaic Pro certified installer that does the inspection will charge a fee for cleaning, polishing, and additional application if required. Now, I knew that way back, and didn't really have a problem with it considering how much I value Jason/Carzwerk's work. I asked Jason to perform the inspection and apply a refresh coat of Ceramic Pro.

At this point I shouldn't be, but I'm always surprised at how fantastic looking my car looks after leaving it with Jason for a few hours. I brought him a filthy car that had just come from a track weekend, and he made it shine! The texture on the cars surface everywhere was just so incredibly smooth!

Additionally Jason went the extra mile and made sure to give my door jambs, and other neglected areas cleaning. He wasn't going to be doing any coating on the wheels, but cleaned them up as well (and they were downright FILTHY with track day brake dust).

After Ceramic Pro Refresh with Carzwerk


New Street Pads
Not wanting to ruin Jason's work, the following weekend I replaced my M-Sport brake pads with a less dusty option. The M-Sport pads work well on the street and track, but the levels of dust they give off is ridiculous! Cleaning my wheels was always a bit depressing, because I knew that within a week they'd be covered in dust again.

EBC Redstuff (top) and M-Sport (bottom) Front Brake Pads


For street pads I went with EBC's Redstuff. I got my set on eBay for $225 new. EBC claims their Redstuff pads are low are low dust ceramic street compound. One thing I thought was interesting, is that EBC puts a really abrasive "brake in" coating on their pads, which is supposed to let you brake well upon initial installation (I suspect it also clears any old pad material off). You're not supposed to bed the brakes till this top coating is all worn down. The brake in coating definitely stops well. It bites very early and hard!

EBC Redstuff (bottom) and M-Sport (top) Rear Brake Pads


There aren't really any good stretches of road to bed brakes near me that you can turn around on and go multiple times, but there are some country roads where you can just travel the length of them bedding your brakes. I chose one of these roads that's 5.5mi long to bed the EBC Redstuff pads. That consisted of me getting up to about 60mph, using medium brake pressure to go down to 25mph, and repeating that a couple of times to get the pad temperatures up, then getting up to 70-90mph (as the road allowed), and braking hard (practiced my threshold braking). Around the last mile of this 5.5mile road, I started to get brake fade pretty significantly, and figured the pads were bedded . The next morning, the brake feel was back to normal since the pads had cooled. I definitely know I can't take these pads to the track!

For street driving I'm pretty happy with the EBC Redstuff pads. The bite is better than the M-Sport brake pads, and the braking power is similar to the M-Sport pads in medium/hard braking. I haven't cleaned the wheels yet (since I've been going on dirt roads the past few weekends), but just looking at the pads themselves, I can see much less dust on them. Also, I haven't noticed any squealing, which was what pushed me over the edge on replacing the M-Sport pads for street driving.
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      01-28-2018, 04:42 PM   #18
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Catastrophic Tire Failure

Getting Flat-Bedded out of a Remote Area


Yesterday I went to one of my regular remote, BLM land spots near Angel's Camp, CA. While on the access road to my spot something managed to slice a nice gash in the sidewall of my front driver's side tire. When I exited the car after parking at my spot I immediately heard a loud "whooshing" noise. The ironic part is I must've hit whatever slashed my tire in the last 200yds or so before my spot because all the air came out FAST. Even with the air compressor I bring with me pumping into the tire, the pressure kept dropping. I'm not sure even a run-flat would've stood up to the same damage.

Thankfully I still had some cell phone reception where I was, because most of the area is just dead down in the valley between the mountains. The AAA operator was having trouble figuring out where I was because there's no address and no real area name where I was along this remote access road. I eventually had to have her open up Google Maps, find some landmarks via satellite image, and get GPS coordinates to give the flat bed driver my location.

I was dreading the possibility of waiting 4+hours for a tow truck to make it there, and then on top of that not being able to find a tire place where I could get a new tire to limp the 2hrs home. As luck would have it though, the tow company told me it'd only be an hour and 20min for the driver to get to me, and it would be even shorter if he wasn't working another wreck at the moment. I figured that was optimistic at best, but surprisingly right on time the flat bed arrived!

AAA found a local Chevron that did tires, and they said they'd see if they could squeeze me in, but wasn't sure, so I had the car towed there. When I got there it turned out they weren't terribly busy at all, and just happened to have a tire in the 235/45-18 (same size as my DWS06's) that would work for me. It was a cheap Fuzion tire that they had ordered for a customer to use as a quick temporary tire for a situation similar to mine and were just going to charge me what they paid for it ($85). Later on in casual conversation I mentioned that I had been coming up to the area pretty frequently. The installer asked me if I'd be up there again soon, and I said I would be within the next month. He then told me he was just going to charge me $25 for the tire and asked if I could just return it next time I was in the area. All in all, taking off the damaged tire, getting the new one, and installing it only cost me $45. Boy did I get lucky!

As it turns out, I've been thinking about getting new tires since doing Thunderhill. I guess my time table's been moved up a month, or two, and I'll probably grab some Continental Extremecontact Sports in 245/40-18. I've been looking at those and the new Pilot Sport 4S, but I can get the Conti's for $170 less (enough to buy a fifth one if I wanted!).
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      01-29-2018, 12:43 PM   #19
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how much did the Suntek run you to wrap all of that?
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      01-30-2018, 01:58 AM   #20
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how much did the Suntek run you to wrap all of that?
$4k, stuff's expensive in the Bay Area!
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      01-30-2018, 06:16 PM   #21
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Nice build
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      04-25-2018, 05:11 PM   #22
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With the KC design front strut bar can you get the engine cover on and off easily? or does the strut bar need to come off too?
Also how has it been with the strut bar? Worth it?

Also did the wing mirrors reduce wind noise by any chance? What was the website that you got the wing mirrors you recommend from? Edit: never mind. The links took me there.

And yet another question. How did you mount the rear dashcam?

Last edited by Gabreigns; 04-25-2018 at 05:29 PM.
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