BMW 335xiPin

Prelude to Making a 10-year Old Car Feel New Again

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake currently owns two N54 powered BMW’s – an E60 535i and E82 135i. Jake has 10 years of experience maintaining, repairing, and upgrading his BMW’s. The 135i features a single turbo Precision 6266 conversion capable of 700+whp; Jake completed the entire project on his own. With over 200 automotive articles published, Jake brings a balance of writing skill, hands-on BMW experience, and technical knowledge to the table.

I would first like to take the opportunity to thank Jake and Zach for inviting me to contribute to this community.  I’ve spent many years perusing through forums when I had some spare time.  I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in the process, so I’m happy to have a chance to give back to fellow enthusiasts.

Browsing New BMWs

A few weeks ago I was at the dealership to get my airbag recall done.  It was going to take about an hour to do the airbag replacement, so I decided to hang out.  How do you kill an hour at the dealership?  I think you know the answer.  You drink the free coffee.  Then you browse a few cars and go get another free coffee.  As I was meandering around with my free coffee, one car caught my eye.  The new 440i was gorgeous, and I walked all around it, saving the spec sheet for last.  (I could see the salesmen eyeing me, but I prominently displayed my paperwork from the service department to deter them from approaching me.)  First I looked at the price tag, a cool $50,000.  Ok, the price wasn’t too bad, it’s about what I expected.  Then I looked at the HP/torque numbers, which were 320/330 respectively.  While those are great numbers for just about any car that is fun to drive, it really wasn’t that much over my current 335xi (for those of you who don’t already know, it’s 300/300).

The Epiphany

Shrugging those thoughts off, I went back to looking at the car and then sitting inside of it.  My nose filled with that nostalgic new car smell. I almost walked out of there with a new car that day.  Almost.  For one, I didn’t have $50k to throw around, as much as I wish I did.  Sure, I could have financed it and probably managed to handle the payments. That’s not exactly the most financially responsible thing to do though is it?  (No, no it’s not.)  Especially considering that my car was functioning pretty well for being almost 10 years old.  So I sat there in the car, sipping my free coffee, thinking to myself that what would it take to 1. Get all the little annoying things going on in my car back to normal (I’ll get to those shortly), and 2. Get my car faster than this 440i.

I’ve always known that my 335xi was conservatively tuned out of the factory, and the potential to be a speeding ticket machine was always there.  I had done some superficial research in the past about messing around with the ECU, but nothing really serious.  Why?  Part of it was in the first 4 years, I didn’t want to void my warranty.  What about the last 6 years, you ask?  To be honest, I was a little afraid.  We all know how expensive BMWs can be, especially if you do something stupid and royally screw it up.  So in summary, it was fear of the unknown, and I also didn’t have the time to devote to the research.  Until maybe now.  Before I could think anymore about it, my cell phone rang and the service representative told me my car was ready.  So with a newfound determination, I decided I would go home and do earnest research on getting my car back to it’s former glory, and then some.

The Resurrection Checklist

As promised, I will now detail the items that I need to fix to get the car back in tip top shape.

  1. First and foremost, there has been one really annoying thing going on with my car: the dreaded DTS malfunction.  Not so much the actual warning, but the fact that the turn signal won’t reset automatically most of the time when the warning is active. DIY: The DSC/DTS Malfunction
  2. The car requests limp mode at high RPMs.  This isn’t usually an issue unless I’m really pushing the car hard.  There’s no actual loss of power, which leads me to suspect there’s a small leak in one of the vacuum lines, but it could be one of any other number of things.  It also scares the crap out of passengers who haven’t seen it before.
  3. The RPMs at idle fluctuate a tiny bit.  I know, it’s OCD kicking in, so sue me.
  4. The car really needs a full detail.  I keep it garaged when I’m at home, so the paint job has actually lasted pretty well minus the typical swirl marks and very minor scratches, but a little more TLC is due.

So there you have it, the annoying things I have to handle in addition to beginning to seriously mod the car.  In the coming articles I will go through how I resolved some of these issues as well as my planned mods.  Stay tuned! (No pun intended.)

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