Technical issues with MAF sensors and dual mass flywheels, wheel refurbishment and the E92 Coupé are all on Andrew’s radar this time…
MAF Issues In BMW’s
This has popped up on our current Z3 project, but the issue may resonate with owners of other BMWs and hopefully save them some time and money.
This particular car had a problem where it would fire on the button and idle fine, but it was flat when cold, only improving when warmed up and even then it was a bit lacklustre. The ABS and traction control (ASC or DSC) lights would illuminate and then go out as soon as the car was driven up the road. There was no engine management light and no fault codes showing, either for the engine or the ABS system. Now this could escalate into an expensive parts fitting session; an ABS module, throttle body, various sensors and so on – getting nowhere. When you have no clue where to start it’s about the only thing you can do – unless someone has found the answer before you…
I mentioned this problem to Parkside Autos in Worksop (01909 506555) and it turns out it had an E46 in with the exact same problem, and that it behaved itself with the MAF (mass air flow sensor or air flow meter) disconnected. This tells the ECU to revert to a default fuel setting and so gave Parkside an idea of what the issue might be. Fitting a new MAF cured the fault.
Now, a proper good quality MAF such as a Bosch or febi Bilstein item is quite expensive but there are loads of cheap used ones on eBay so it could be worth fitting one of those just to eliminate the fault before taking the plunge. But if disconnecting it ‘cures’ the problem then it’s almost certain that this is the fault. We’d probably avoid the bargain eBay MAF’s – there is a good reason they’re only £50.00
Some Problems In BMW E92 Coupè
It’s not 14 years since these appeared, yet the E92 3 Series Coupé remains one of BMW’s best looking BMWs and one of my favourites.
The 4 Series Coupé is arguably prettier but they aren’t £2500 and that’s what these are down to now. Ignore the 320i – they’re nothing but trouble, none of it cheap to fix, and the same goes for the later 318i which is both trouble and not very fast either. The 320d is nice when it works but you still have the spectre of timing chain drama as well as rattly dual mass flywheels and injector/pump trouble, although they are generally not bad. No, it’s the 325i and 330i you want, straight-six petrols that are both superb to drive, sound like a BMW should and are overall more reliable. The N52 engine likes to leak oil, is known for electric water pump failure and can have problems with the camshaft ledges wearing leading to Vanos trouble. But buy a clean one with a service history and clean oil and you should be okay. With plenty of oil changes using fully synthetic, the N52 should run and run, and even the dreaded water pump isn’t that expensive now – forget secondhand ones as you can buy a new Pierburg pump for a shade over £200.00 plus about 90 minutes to fit and code. With a good rust resistant body (plastic front wings) and a chassis that is good by 2020 standards, a decent 325i or 330i Coupé is a nice thing to own. The 57 plate onwards cars have the N53 direct injection engine with the infamous injector troubles – these aren’t that bad but bear in mind an injector is £200 plus fitting and coding – it’s possibly worth going back a few months to buy a late N52 engined car.
Dual Mass Flywheel Conversions
These have been around for quite a while, and on the face of it they are a great cheap way of fixing a car with a worn out clutch and a rattling or shuddering flywheel. I’m a bit wary of these on diesels as the DMF is there to absorb some of the inherent vibration, especially four-cylinder ones. But petrols? They run a lot smoother anyway so they should be worth a go, right?
Well I’m not so sure. I found a supposedly Valeo-made conversion kit for an E90 318i (for example) on eBay for £170.00. Solid flywheel, clutch plate with the four springs, clutch cover and release bearing. Seems like a deal, right? Well, not really. There are two main reasons for this and I’ll start with one of cost. The £170.00 thing is either a fake and therefore junk, or it’s some dusty old stock the vendor wants shot of, and at that price it’s a bargain.
The normal price seems to be around £400.00 with the cheapest being £325.00. Is that cheap? Not when you can buy a new LuK dual mass flywheel and clutch kit for around £480.00. The second point is that after a few days driving the converted car, you may wish you’d paid the extra £150.00 for the dual mass flywheel. It’s only when you drive a car with an old style clutch and solid flywheel that you appreciate how nice a dual mass flywheel car is, the ease at which the drive is taken up and how forgiving it is. Of course, modern DMFs don’t last as long as they should and we’ve seen 320d models with under 70,000 miles with rattling flywheels when they should do 150,000 at least.
At some point we need to fit a Valeo solid flywheel conversion to something like a E90 320i to see what it’s like, but the jury is out until then…
Bargain Wheel Refurbishment
I recently had a set of really gruesome alloys refurbished. These were both kerbed pretty badly and corroded as well. But AP Tyres in Rotherham came to the rescue on the recommendation of a friend who had a set of 16-inch Mercedes wheels sorted for a bargain £200.00. AP supplied me a set of 17-inch loaner alloys to keep the car on the road, the idea is that you make an appointment and then drive it there so they can swap the wheels over. They then get to work refurbing the shabby wheels – I had mine colour changed from the standard silver to a smoky metallic grey.
Prices will vary depending on wheel size but a set of 18- inch wheels cost around £250.00 all in to restore which is a bargain – I’ve not seen a better refurb job for sure. Split-rims are no trouble and they can straighten bent wheels as well as weld cracked ones too. There is acid dipping or media blasting to get the alloys back to bare metal before starting again with repairs, refinishing and powder coating to give a superb finish. Unlike factory alloys that are painted one side only, these are completely powder coated inside and out so they won’t corrode again.
AP Tyres has been in business since 1985, the company was started by Paul Hutchinson who can still be found at the tyre changing machine – a hands-on boss. It’s a large (and still expanding) business that has upwards of 3000 tyres on its racks, plus employees who are working on wheel restoration only and turning-out several sets a day. Contact them on 01709 523827.