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      07-02-2017, 12:43 AM   #331
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Nothing too exciting lately - just catching up on routine maintenance. I'm a little overdue for a rear diff fluid change, about 4-5 months late, to be exact. Although, I've on,y put about 1,000 miles on the car in that time, so I'm not to worried about it.

I'v actually had all the parts needed for quite a while: a fluid extractor, a couple of quarts of Red Line 80W-140 GL-5 gear oil, and an OE replacement fill plug. The thing that was holding me back was a need to be able to get the car high enough in the air to work underneath, while also keeping the car level (so as not to over- or underfill the differential). And then I also had to move rather suddenly, and we decided to buy a house, so it's been super busy.

I finally got the garage unpacked and organized, and as much as I wish I could've installed a lift, I decided to go a different direction. I picked up a set of four JackPoints jack stands. These are pretty popular in the P-car community - they allow you to jack up your car by the factory jack point, and then place a jack stand underneath the same jack point. Probably the easiest way to get a car onto four stands, especially a lowered car.

My car is quite low, and the short wheelbase of the 1er makes jacking a little more difficult as well, so it still took working with a combination of ramps and two jacks to get the car up on all four corners, but I did it:

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The nice thing is these stands are super stout and wide-based, and include appropriate jack-pad adapters - so the entire arrangement is quite sturdy. For good measure, I also placed blocks underneath the rear tires before I went underneath (you can see them in the next pic).

Not much to say about the fluid transfer, other than I really wish we had proper drain plugs. A fluid extractor works well enough, but I'd really prefer being able to completely drain the rear diff and flush it out with clean fluid before filling. On a side note, I finally got to experience the very distinctive smell of used diff fluid - smells sort of like a cross between fuel and BO. Very weird!

I used a generic fluid pump to refill the diff. Unfortunately, the Red Line bottles are a unique shape and there is no pump on the market that threads onto them, so it's a bit awkward to kind of hold the pump onto the bottle while simultaneously working the pump, but it works. I don't get why a company like Red Line would sell their products in non-standard sized bottles, and not even sell a proprietary pump, but oh well.

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      07-05-2017, 04:53 PM   #332
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LOVE the color of those wheels.
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      07-05-2017, 05:19 PM   #333
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LOVE the color of those wheels.
Thanks, me too! It's Triple Bronze by Prismatic Powders.
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      07-06-2017, 08:35 AM   #334
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Thanks, me too! It's Triple Bronze by Prismatic Powders.
Yeah I am a huge fan of any of the bronze variations. The bronze contrasts so well with the red body.
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      07-10-2017, 11:59 PM   #335
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If you frequent the 128i section of this forum, you may have noticed another thread where I was talking about my problems with an uneven idle, some power loss at WOT, and persistent codes related to the eccentric shaft sensor. This is a fairly common issue with these engines, so it wasn't too surprising that I was facing it almost 7 1/2 years after my car's build date.

I ordered the parts a few weeks ago: a Genuine OE valve cover gasket set, Valvetronic motor gasket, and eccentric shaft sensor gasket (later I also ordered an oil filler cap gasket, based on the appearance of the original). For the eccentric shaft sensor itself, I decided to save a few bucks and go OEM and picked up a VDO unit. I'm nearly certain this is the same part as from the factory anyway. As long as I was going through all this trouble, I figured I'd do the spark plugs and coils, again going with OEM: Bosch for the coils and NGK for the plugs (literally the exact same part number on these).

There are a bunch of posts on various BMW forums about this job, so I won't go into too much detail, except to say wow, what a pain in the ass. It's not technically difficult, but
  1. there is SO much stuff that has to come off before you get to the valve cover, and
  2. some of it is so damn finicky, so just take your time and don't break anything.

Finally, if you recognize this:

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then you know the massive ordeal that is valve cover removal on these cars. You will swear, cry, and moan before you get to the picture above. A few more tips:
  1. Don't take any short cuts - all those things you think maybe don't have to be removed or disconnected for access? They do (and then there still won't be enough room!).
  2. This has been said somewhere before, but make sure you have a good collection of sockets, including extensions and u-joints - you will not get this job done without them. You need a good E-torx set (E18 for the cross brace, E10 for the valve cover). I've been working slowly and deliberately over the course of several days - been busy with work and family obligations, plus I spent all day Saturday doing paint correction on the Mercedes - but a couple times I've been slowed down waiting for tools (like a deep 10mm socket - my deep sockets started at 12mm).
  3. Speaking of tools, it might be wise to have an inch-lb torque wrench around - the valve cover bolts are torqued at less than 10 ft-lbs, which is less than most typical torque wrenches can handle.
  4. I still have the car up on four jack stands from when I did the differential drain and fill - I'm not entirely sure it would be worth the effort to raise up the car for this job alone, but my back has enjoyed not having to hunch down so much all the time.
  5. If you're going to do spark plugs, it's worth picking up this special BMW tool in order to easily hand thread the new plugs before tightening then down with your torque wrench.

Anyway, that's all I can think of off the top of my head at the moment. I still have some ways to go before finishing - after snapping the pic above, I R&Red the faulty eccentric shaft sensor, as well as swapped out the spark plugs. You might notice in the lower right a new sport air filter - the original was installed almost 36,000 miles ago, and I'd rather just replace it than clean it.

Not pictured is the valve cover, which was hosed down and allowed to dry overnight, before I pressed in the new gaskets. I didn't get a chance to refit the valve cover today, but hopefully tomorrow, and my inch-lb torque wrench should be here the following day - right now the plan is to have everything buttoned up and back together before the end of the week.
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      07-11-2017, 10:59 AM   #336
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I did this same maintenance a few years ago at 45k on my 08 minus the coils. The vcg was the root of the repair but I did the ess so I wouldn't have to open it up again anytime soon. Make sure you get that back breather tube on correctly or you'll get a check engine light.
The car felt so good after this maintenance. Revs seemed to not drop as fast and better throttle response. At 86k now and have plugs and coils on the way.
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      07-12-2017, 12:35 AM   #337
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Well, the good news is the valve cover goes on way easier than it comes off. Part of it is that I sort of knew the angle and rotation that was required (just did the reverse of removal), and I bought myself a little more clearance by removing the ignition coil insulators and peeling back the weather stripping from the firewall (both of which I recommend, if you were to remove the valve cover).

It's funny - I feel like if I could go back and do this job over again, it would be much smoother, but I guess that's the benefit of experience, and true of most situations. The weakness of the hobbyist mechanic is that for so many jobs that you do, it's your first (and often your last!) time doing it, unlike the dealer techs, who have R&Red countless N52 valve covers (not to mention the education and training they received, of course).

But still, I guess there are lots of little lessons learned along the way that will apply at least somewhat to other projects, even if they're on different parts of the car, or different cars altogether. And besides - it's fun, sort of - isn't that why we do it in the first place?
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      07-12-2017, 03:30 PM   #338
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Did you completely obliterate the spark plug tubes getting them out like I did? or were you smart about it and got them out unscathed?
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      07-12-2017, 10:14 PM   #339
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Originally Posted by desertman123 View Post
Did you completely obliterate the spark plug tubes getting them out like I did? or were you smart about it and got them out unscathed?
You know, I meant to pull them out before trying to get the valve cover off, but I forgot. I ended up not damaging them, but I took them off afterward, and I think that was one of the reason the valve cover went back on so much more easily.
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      07-17-2017, 12:59 PM   #340
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Nice car. Going back over your thread I noticed the Performance Brake Kit. Do you know if that was available from the factory as an order-able option on any year 128?

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Another year, another move. After finishing school, I received orders to North Carolina. I was able to do one more autocross and a track day in SoCal (at Buttonwillow), but then it was time to move.


I tried to settle in with the local AX clubs, but I was only able to attend two events, in Charlotte and Wilmington, before work got in the way (I had an upcoming deployment to get ready for).

I was able to pick up a BMW Performance brake kit, though. Some people will say it's nothing but bling, and I do think it happens to look good while also not really being on the same level as a BBK from StopTech or the like. However, I think the brake feel is really improved, and the ability to modulate braking. The 6-pot calipers really have a more aggressive and pleasing initial bite.


I spent the last couple of months of the year going back and forth between home and training, and by December I had put the car in storage for a 7-month deployment.
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      07-18-2017, 02:12 AM   #341
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Nice car. Going back over your thread I noticed the Performance Brake Kit. Do you know if that was available from the factory as an order-able option on any year 128?
The Performance parts were available as port-installed accessories. So while not technically "factory" options, they could be specified on the build sheet and their cost amortized into the loan.
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      07-22-2017, 12:31 AM   #342
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I posted an update in the thread I had started about my trouble codes, but for the sake of completeness I wanted to mention it in my build thread. Got the car back together and it runs great - the idle is smoothing out, and the new air filter, plugs, and coils make the engine feel that much fresher. Whenever I drive this car after an extended break I'm always amazed at how great it feels.

After a couple of days, still no new codes thrown, and no leaks from the valve cover.

For anyone thinking about tackling this on their own, know that it's a totally doable DIY. You need a little bit of experience, and certainly some patience your first go around. But I can't stress enough the need to have a good set of tools. This is what I came up with to get to one of the valve cover bolts tucked back under the passenger side of the firewall:

Name:  wrench.jpg
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That's almost every extension, adapter, and u-joint I have! And it was still a PITA (what are factory-trained techs even using to get at some of these fasteners?). The pictured inch-pound torque wrench was invaluable, and a new purchase for this job. I already had a couple of foot-pound wrenches, but nothing for fine work like the valve cover bolts, which you really don't want to screw up.

One thing I hadn't heard mentioned is that all but two of the valve cover bolts seem to be captive in the cover - so don't be surprised when they don't come all the way out.

On another, sillier note, I also finally took care of something that has been irking me for a while. I had the Performance brake kit fitted almost 3 years ago, and I remember sometime afterward looking at the instructions and seeing this section:

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Anyway, I realized that the dealer techs didn't put that label, whatever it was, on my car. I guess they just threw it away. Obviously it's completely immaterial and pointless, but it just kind of bugged me anyways. Well, a little while back I was messaging with forum member crowtrobot , who was installing the brake kit on his own 1er, and he went ahead and sent me an extra sticker he had.

As it happens, there is no space on the driver's side B-pillar under the door lock, because of various other stickers that came from the factory, but there was space above the lock, so that's where it went:

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Kind of a stupid thing, I know, but I'm a completist, so it feels good to have the brake job finally "finished" (and period correct!). I kind of like any reference to the BMW Performance brand (like my limited edition carbon fiber license plate frame, and the brake calipers, both rocking the Performance Yellow), especially since BMW essentially killed the line when they rebranded it as ///M Performance - just kind of makes the old bits an odd little detour in BMW's history.

Anyway, you can probably tell I spend way too much time thinking about stuff like this...
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      07-27-2017, 08:34 PM   #343
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Just finished reading through this thread, have to say I absolutely love your car. Very modest, but thought out mods.

On another note, my car's also crimson red, and I live in Bellingham, it'd be great to meet and compare cars at some point. Always wanted to see what a 128 is like, and if you'd be interested I do some phtogoraphy and would love to shoot your car.
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      07-27-2017, 09:46 PM   #344
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer-Bob View Post
I posted an update in the thread I had started about my trouble codes, but for the sake of completeness I wanted to mention it in my build thread. Got the car back together and it runs great - the idle is smoothing out, and the new air filter, plugs, and coils make the engine feel that much fresher. Whenever I drive this car after an extended break I'm always amazed at how great it feels.

After a couple of days, still no new codes thrown, and no leaks from the valve cover.

For anyone thinking about tackling this on their own, know that it's a totally doable DIY. You need a little bit of experience, and certainly some patience your first go around. But I can't stress enough the need to have a good set of tools. This is what I came up with to get to one of the valve cover bolts tucked back under the passenger side of the firewall:


That's almost every extension, adapter, and u-joint I have! And it was still a PITA (what are factory-trained techs even using to get at some of these fasteners?). The pictured inch-pound torque wrench was invaluable, and a new purchase for this job. I already had a couple of foot-pound wrenches, but nothing for fine work like the valve cover bolts, which you really don't want to screw up.

One thing I hadn't heard mentioned is that all but two of the valve cover bolts seem to be captive in the cover - so don't be surprised when they don't come all the way out.

On another, sillier note, I also finally took care of something that has been irking me for a while. I had the Performance brake kit fitted almost 3 years ago, and I remember sometime afterward looking at the instructions and seeing this section:


Anyway, I realized that the dealer techs didn't put that label, whatever it was, on my car. I guess they just threw it away. Obviously it's completely immaterial and pointless, but it just kind of bugged me anyways. Well, a little while back I was messaging with forum member crowtrobot , who was installing the brake kit on his own 1er, and he went ahead and sent me an extra sticker he had.

As it happens, there is no space on the driver's side B-pillar under the door lock, because of various other stickers that came from the factory, but there was space above the lock, so that's where it went:


Kind of a stupid thing, I know, but I'm a completist, so it feels good to have the brake job finally "finished" (and period correct!). I kind of like any reference to the BMW Performance brand (like my limited edition carbon fiber license plate frame, and the brake calipers, both rocking the Performance Yellow), especially since BMW essentially killed the line when they rebranded it as ///M Performance - just kind of makes the old bits an odd little detour in BMW's history.

Anyway, you can probably tell I spend way too much time thinking about stuff like this...
I feel your pain.
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      07-29-2017, 01:00 PM   #345
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer-Bob View Post

Kind of a stupid thing, I know, but I'm a completist, so it feels good to have the brake job finally "finished" (and period correct!). I kind of like any reference to the BMW Performance brand (like my limited edition carbon fiber license plate frame, and the brake calipers, both rocking the Performance Yellow), especially since BMW essentially killed the line when they rebranded it as ///M Performance - just kind of makes the old bits an odd little detour in BMW's history.

Anyway, you can probably tell I spend way too much time thinking about stuff like this...
Would you say you're.... addicted?

I like this forum because we can be as anal as humanly possible and no one bats an eye.

Personally, I wouldn't care that much about the sticker, but I do kinda like the "100%" aspect about it.
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      07-30-2017, 08:57 AM   #346
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rallim View Post
Just finished reading through this thread, have to say I absolutely love your car. Very modest, but thought out mods.

On another note, my car's also crimson red, and I live in Bellingham, it'd be great to meet and compare cars at some point. Always wanted to see what a 128 is like, and if you'd be interested I do some phtogoraphy and would love to shoot your car.
Thanks for the kind words. I'd be happy to meet up sometime and compare cars (and wouldn't say no to some photography, either!).
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