335is Build - Rebuilding a neglected 335is

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So I've never done this before...document a build. So if anyone (@doublespaces) wants to give advice feel free, you won't hurt my feelings. I've been working on this since June and sporadically taking pictures with some thought of maybe documenting what I am going through. So I'm going to back up and start from the beginning and hopefully catch you guys up over the course of the next week.

This is where it all started:

Back in June I was in Jamaica with my wife on a vacation. No kids, no phones, just us in a fun place. One night on the beach in Jamaica I was searching craigslist for a project car. I was looking for something fun to build...maybe an old muscle car.

We live in Dallas, and by chance I was looking at San Francisco's craigslist and saw this:

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2011 335is, 43,000mi, DCT, Nav, $10,000

I thought that was way wrong, no way this car was $10k. Clicked on the ad and saw that it had a rebuilt title. OK, not getting scared yet. Said it was in good shape but needed some work. Ad said that the car needed to be sold fairly quickly. These are the rest of the pics from the ad:

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dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
Since Jamaica is 5hr ahead of San Fran I called the phone number on the ad. The guy answered and, with a thick accent, answered every question I had for him. He was the second owner, he bought it wrecked, and had it fixed at a friend's shop in San Fran. Original owner was from San Fran too...this car had lived its entire life in San Francisco downtown proper...so even though it only had 43,000mi...it was a hard 43,000mi. I told him that I needed the VIN to run a carfax and to decode and I needed current up to date pics in good light (i.e. outside). I got the VIN and he sent me these pics:

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dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So, at this point I ran the VIN through a common BMW VIN decoder and ran a CarFax on it. What I found was really promising. This is an early build 335is with factory NAV, DCT, and upgraded Oyster leather seats. A few other options listed, but nothing noteworthy.

CarFax shows the original owner buying the car in Sacramento California and registering it immediately in San Fran just like the guy told me. At roughly 24,000mi the car was reported as a total loss in Feb 2014. It was purchased by the second owner in Apr 2014, it then shows a dealership in San Francisco performing some maintenance and updating CarFax, then it was inspected by the state of California and a title issued, and registered in San Fran again to the second owner.

So in 3 years the second owner had put 19,000mi on the car (while living in San Fran Proper)...and now he was trying to sell it. Sounds legit, and if the BMW dealership did (at least some of) the work and the state inspected it I felt that this was interesting enough to spend the $190 to fly out and look at it.
 
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dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
It's important to note that I travel for work, and I work in San Francisco frequently. And 2 days after I fly back from Jamaica I was slated to have a meeting in Sacramento followed by a meeting in Phoenix. A couple phone calls and I relocated the first meeting to San Fran and paid the change fee for my flight that was supposed to go to Sacramento. So I was off to San Francisco to look at a car, and if all goes well buy it and drive it back to Dallas stopping in Phoenix on the way to have another business meeting. Yea.

When I got off the plane I let the owner know I was on the ground, and he responded he was on his way to get me. He pulled up in the 335is with his buddy, I dropped my luggage in the trunk, his buddy got in the back and I jumped in the passenger seat. I started checking things out immediately. I noticed several problems (that I'll outline later in this post) but I needed to know why he was selling in such a rush for this price. So come to find out, the guy was a foreign national who was living here on a visa that was expiring. He had to leave the country in 10d. He drove to his parking garage while we talked and I got the rundown on his version of the car's history. During the ride and subsequent inspection in the garage this is what I found:

1. Nav is inoperable
2. Missing interior rear view mirror (it was in the trunk)
3. Glue on the center console from where they tried to glue the mirror back on and it fell off *again*
4. Scuff on the passenger dashboard by the glove box
5. Dirty as sin...seriously...
6. CEL active for misfires
7. Both bumpers needed to be resprayed, they had been bumped in city parking maneuvers and the paint was pretty bad (on the bumpers alone)
8. Driver's side door had a dent and was scratched to hell
9. Driver's side mirror was cracked
10. There was white paint on the steering wheel
11. Wheels were curbed to shit
12. Did I say it was dirty as sin?
13. Slight gap between the hood and bumper

At this point I jumped in it to drive it around town and on the highway. And even though there were a lot of small cosmetic issues, the thing ran like a champ...but high rpm I'd get misfires. The transmission was leak free and shifted better than any SMG/DCT car I had ever driven (no shit). So I got out of the car, looked it over once again and then I listed off all the stuff I saw. He agreed and said that's why he listed it for such a low price. We haggled a bit, I got him to come off the price slightly, and we went to a bank to transfer the funds.

I had my meeting in San Fran without issue then got in the car and started driving south through Cali on my way to Los Angeles (short stop) and then to Phoenix for a couple days before finally heading to Dallas.

In southern California, at about 3pm I snapped this pic:

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Yes, 113F at 3pm. I snapped that pic because *usually* 3pm is the hottest time of the day. As the sun drops it generally starts to get cooler. Well, little did I know I was driving this unknown/untested/unproven car through Palm Desert and the western Arizona desert during the worst heat wave in the past 30y. I can't find the picture, but the temp kept climbing and by the time I hit Quartzsite AZ at roughly 9pm the ambient temp was 120F!!!!

The car never skipped a beat. And at the last gas stop before Phoenix I hooked up MHD to see what the IAT temps were and I was watching my IAT's hover in the 150-160F range :0

When I finally made it to Phoenix I made 2 decisions:

1. I can't drive another mile without the interior rear view mirror. I didn't realize how much I used it.
2. When I depart Phoenix I'm doing it at night when it isn't so f'n hot.
 

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So the next morning I got up in my hotel room, and made a couple quick runs to Harbor Freight (for a few cheap hand tools) and autozone for:

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Yea, I was serious about not going anywhere else without that mirror mounted. So I got the mirror out of the trunk and the mounting button was still on the mirror. To release your rear view mirror from the mounting button you twist the mirror...but since but button wasn't glued to a fixed surface *I* had to twist the button. But before I do that I clean the button up really good with the supplied razor blade and sandpaper:

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Now that all the old glue has been removed, and the button has been roughed up enough for new glue to set on it I need to get the button off the mirror. Out come the $3 harbor freight vice grips:

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Success!!! Now I need to clean the mounting surface on the windshield and prep it for glue:

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You won't believe how difficult it is to glue something to a windshield that is over 150F! I had to pull into the shade under a tree, cool the windshield off with water. Place a wet towel over the mounting spot on the outside of the windshield so the mounting point would stay cool. THEN, I could apply the glue and mount the mirror button. After 4 tries (the heat kept cooking the glue) I got it right. And I was ready to spend the next 2 days in Phoenix having some meetings.

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dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
The rest of the trip back from Phoenix to Dallas was relatively uneventful. I got a speeding ticket in Arizona. And the misfire issue got worse as time progressed. While in San Francisco I had to really push on the car to get a misfire. By the time I hit New Mexico I'd get a misfire at about 50% throttle above 4000rpm. I had a hunch that was later proven true. I figured our leaky ass valve covers were striking. If the valve cover was leaking I could be getting more oil on the coils as I drove causing oil contamination and therefore misfires.

In New Mexico during a stop at a gas station I popped the hood and did see a slight sheen of oil on the heat shielding over the turbo's. I tried but couldn't get a good pic of it. But that made me feel like my hunch was correct at the time.

Kept driving non stop all the way back to Dallas and got home at 10am...just in time for my Friday conference call marathon! HAHAHA

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She needed a good bath, she was covered in road grime, sand, dirt, bugs, and just general *yuck*. Then she needs to find her new home in the garage.

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And just to check, I averaged 25.5mpg over a 28hr drive from San Francisco to Dallas. A total of 1800mi. Not bad!

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dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
The next day it was time to get to work on the car because with the level of misfires it was having she was generally not drivable. But before I was allowed to work on it my son had to inspect the new ride.

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So I pulled the coils and plugs, do you notice anything suspicious?

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That pic has them lined up from left to right as 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Plugs #2 and #3 were soaked in oil. The valve cover gasket was leaking. A couple of the fasteners around that part of the valve cover were loose. This is what the plug galleys looked like:

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And what the coils looked like when I pulled them off:

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A new set of factory coils and a set of NGK plugs one step colder gapped to 0.22" and it was time to see how bad the oil leak was and clean everything up.

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Under the car this was the worst part. Seems a stream of oil had dripped down the heat shielding, down the side of the block, right onto the O2 sensor wires. Not bad at all really, but some TLC with Simple Green degreaser and a power washer got everything back to new.
 

doublespaces

Administrator
Oct 18, 2016
6,959
AZ
Yes, 113F at 3pm. I snapped that pic because *usually* 3pm is the hottest time of the day. As the sun drops it generally starts to get cooler. Well, little did I know I was driving this unknown/untested/unproven car through Palm Desert and the western Arizona desert during the worst heat wave in the past 30y. I can't find the picture, but the temp kept climbing and by the time I hit Quartzsite AZ at roughly 9pm the ambient temp was 120F!!!!

The car never skipped a beat. And at the last gas stop before Phoenix I hooked up MHD to see what the IAT temps were and I was watching my IAT's hover in the 150-160F range :0
Literally every year my car's in dash temp gauge will say 118-120+ so we're splitting hairs on the record aspect haha. It gets hot as hell here.

Did they ever disclose what the reason for being totaled was?
 

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So at this point I was concerned with cleaning it, putting miles on it, looking for issues, logging it, and seeing if this thing was worth keeping or not. I was confident that I would not lose money on this...even if I wanted to get rid of it I could at least get my money back. But I didn't want to put money into fixing the car up if the problems ran too deep.

First off was the interior. It was filthy. It just needed some good ole hard work to get it cleaned up. Here's an example of a before and after for the seat folder mechanism. A toothbrush and some soapy water did this:

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Then it was the leather's turn. I had to scrub a bit more here, but it was well worth the effort. The Oyster colored leather shows everything...getting it all off was a chore but yielded beautiful leather under:

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I seem to have run out of pictures, or lost some...but I took that toothbrush to the entire interior of that car that was covered in leather. What I ended up with surprised even me. My wife said it looked new inside....I won't go that far. I see some marks on trim pieces and some tiny imperfections, but it is phenomenal how it was just dirt, no stains anywhere.

The dash scuffs I fixed as well with some leather/vinyl dye...cost me like $4 from Amazon and you can't find the scuffs any more. The only interior issues you see is trim pieces that might be scratched here or there. Not worth the money to replace or the time to fix.

I then spent the next 4-5 weeks (the entirety of June and July) driving the car and logging it. I never had a problem. Nothing. During this time I started ordering exterior replacement parts to fix things like the mirror housing and driver's door. I found a perfect Black Sapphire Metallic driver's door for $400 and just bolted it on with a new 335is blackline mirror housing from ECS for $35. So I fixed the most glaring cosmetic issues for less than $500 combined. Here were the broken/damaged pieces. I'll have to get new pics of the finished product.

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Basically the motto is replace it! If the part isn't perfect it gets replaced with a factory fresh item.....even an entire door.
 
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dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
Literally every year my car's in dash temp gauge will say 118-120+ so we're splitting hairs on the record aspect haha. It gets hot as hell here.

Did they ever disclose what the reason for being totaled was?
That was 120F at 9pm...no sun out. :cry:

There was no official record, but the 2nd owner said it was a front end collision. I later confirmed this and will get into that in a bit. It caused me a bit of grief but then my own bone-headed self caused myself more grief. And in the end it is coming out better than I could have ever imagined. I'll write it up over this weekend...I have the sad pics and the happy pics to share.
 

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
The next thing I decided to tackle was the nav system. Everything else in the CIC interface works. But navigation was dead. It wouldn't even initialize. After some google-fu I found that there is a hidden menu for navigation diagnostics. A little up up down down left right left right a b b a select start action later and I saw that the GPS sensor wasn't registering any data at all. I checked all the connections and got no love. So off to Amazon I went for a diagnostic tool. For $10 same day delivery (hahaha, you have to love Amazon) I got a Fakra plugged Active GPS antenna! I plugged it into the CIC unit and reset the navigation controls and BAM! There were satellites registering, I got a longitude and latitude, and a speed readout. Switch over to navigation and everything works.

Looks like the shark fin antenna had the GPS portion short out. Everything else is fine, just GPS. I'll end up replacing the shark fin but for now it doesn't bother me. But it is nice to know that a $28 antenna is the part I need to replace to fix the CIC system.
 

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So after 5 weeks I had a car that I had spent a few hundred dollars on, fixed the major issues, and almost ALL the minor cosmetic issues. I needed to get the front and rear bumpers repainted, and the gap between the bumper and hood was annoying. But I decided the car didn't have major problems and it was time to spend some money on it. Nothing like going from a stock 335is to an FBO+ Tuned 335is in one day right?

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Yes, new shoes were included in the mix. Put on some black 18" F10 wheels wrapped in Hankook v12 Evo2's. 245's up front and 275's out back. They weigh the same as the factory 19" 313 setup with run flat kidney killers mounted. Also dropped in some 3" downpipes, 7.5" VRSF race FMIC, a charge pipe, Tial BOV, DCI, external PCV conversion, AD-Eng oil thermostat, and a custom MHD tune. I had an exhaust sitting in the garage from a previous e92 I used to have (you can see the black exhaust tip in this pic peaking out above the hood). But I like the factory 335is exhaust better.

Nobody needs or wants pics of a generic FBO install...we've all seen it. But I do have my heartbreak pic. When I removed all the bodywork to install the FMIC I found this:

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It is hard to know what this is so let me try my best to explain it. I illuminated the problem area with a light. The big black pipe is the intercooler outlet (stock). That is where the charge pipe makes its bend up from the intercooler to run alongside the radiator. The illuminated section is the factory driver's side frame rail. The big aluminum component at the bottom of the pic is the subframe.

So you are looking at the bottom of the driver's side frame rail, all the way at the front of the car. The area highlighted by the flashlight has a peculiar trapezoidal shaped section. See that. There is where my heart hit my stomach. If you don't know what that means yet let me tell you.

Bent frame rail. Yea, that's a seam that popped open due to the front impact that caused the car to be totaled. I stopped everything I was doing at this point and called in some favors. We took the car and had it measured on a laser frame rack. I'd rather spend $400 to diagnose this now than regret it later.

The BMW tech explained to me that this was/is a crumple zone. It is designed to bend. He gave me the readout and it showed that my driver's rail had bent 2.8deg down for a total droop of right at 3/8". That's why my bumper had a gap between it and the hood. He showed me that according to BMW 1.5deg was considered acceptable, that would be a droop of about 1/8",...that amount of deflection could be from normal wear over the years (bumps, hitting curbs, etc). Over 1.5deg was suggested rail replacement. 2.5deg was mandatory replacement but not yet structurally deficient. And 3.5deg would be considered structural.

He said he was surprised they totaled it for this, that he has replaced hundreds of these rails on e90 series cars over the years. I'm guessing it was the labor rate from San Francisco that did it. He quoted me $3900 to replace the frame rail. Totally disassembling the car, popping the spot welds, weld in a new rail, paint it, and reassemble it. Would take 4 days.

But he said he wouldn't worry about it if it were me. The car had already been repaired and that being the only thing not fixed it wasn't worth it.

Gutted I went back home. Mulled it over and figured BMW knows best. It's not structurally deficient, but it needs to be fixed. I figured I'd play with the car the rest of the summer/fall and during the winter I'd deliver them the car already disassembled, let them replace the rail, and I'd reassemble it myself. That would take the estimate down to $2000.

I was planning to pull the engine to build it anyhow while doing a single turbo kit. So while the engine was out why not just have the frame fixed.

And then this happened........(next post tomorrow)
 

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So it wasn't right away. I went ahead and had fun with the car for about 4 weeks. After putting the bolt ons on the car and tuning it I enjoyed driving it for a while. It really is a blast...way more fun than my e90 or regular e92. I couldn't believe what a difference the DCT made in the enjoyment of everyday driving. The most fun part is the 'bark' during an upshift. I remember racing a Porsche GT3 RS several years back in my Evo MR. That exhaust coupled with that DCT the Porsche had made the most wonderful sounds upshifting. And the smoothness of the DCT compared to a single clutch automated sequential is amazing. Comparing this to previous BMW SMG transmissions is laughable, and the Lamborghini Gallardo I drove a few years back was just frustrating at best.

I wanted the car because of the DCT transmission and that piece has not let me down.

So after a few weeks of really enjoying the car I was on my way to the store in the morning. I was at a stoplight, turning left. When the light went green we all accelerated away together, turning left, when all of a sudden some idiot decides to run through the intersection from the cross street. He caused everyone to swerve and brake (right when we were all accelerating away from the green light). In the chaos I rear ended the car in front of me.

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Seriously.... Dude, right on the same part of the car that caused the thing to be a total loss a couple years prior. Good news is I have USAA, and they pride themselves on taking care of their vets. Within 1hr after the wreck the car was at the body shop.

Superficial damage. Just a hood, fender, bumper, headlight, headlight bracket, and a few trim panels. $2500 estimate and 7d turnaround. OK. But on day 3 they called me...we found a problem, we need you to come look at the car. I head to the body shop and was expecting for them to tell me about the frame rail. I was expecting to tell them it was prior damage...don't worry. But instead they point at the core support that has a massive crack in it...and THAT was certainly new. OK, so they need to remove the intercooler/radiator/ac condenser/fan/etc and replace the core support.

About 10d in I get another call. Again, I was expecting them to tell me about the rail...and this time they did...but they didn't even give me a chance to explain. They just said that they found a slight bend in the crumple zone of the driver's frame rail and were replacing it. They said it'd take about 4-5 days and that it was already fully disassembled (in other words, the frame rail was removed). This was the body shop.

I called USAA and explained the rail to them, they said that the car had be previously inspected by BMW, the state of California, and the state of TX (during my title transfer/inspection) and this wasn't noted as deficient, and it was in a state of structural deficiency so it had to be replaced, it was going to be taken care of in this repair by insurance.

No shit.

So after 4 weeks total in the body shop I got the call to go pick it up. The car finally looked perfect. Other than the rear bumper that needed a respray it looked like it rolled off the dealership floor. I signed the papers, and drove away happy as a clam. They said they couldn't figure out how to mount my license plate in the supplied mount (that's fine) but everything else was good to go.

Well.........
 

doublespaces

Administrator
Oct 18, 2016
6,959
AZ
If you haven't had an accident or premium hike in a while, this is golden.

I've really wanted a DCT transmission, I just can't justify the money to do the swap. I've already got a PD trans on order, I think if I needed something more than that, then I'd need to have a built motor first. But yes, I agree, the DCT shifting sounds are glorious. Jelly
 

AlexN

Private
Feb 28, 2017
27
Great story, and what a win with the fender bender :sunglasses:
Post some more pics of the car after the repair and the interior cleanup
 

dyezak

Major
May 4, 2017
1,764
Plano TX
So, 16d ago the body shop called me and said that the car was ready to pick up. I went at 5pm on a Friday picked up my car. Lesson #1, don't pick up your car at 5pm on a Friday. The paint and bodywork were (and are) flawless. Wet sanding and buffing a complex bumper assembly like the M-Tech bumper that comes factory on a 335is is no easy task. THAT was my litmus test when I inspected the car. I figured if they got that right, without burning any corners, they did the rest good.

So I drove off from the body shop and headed home. On the way I went over a dip in the road and heard a nasty scrape. I've been over that dip before without issue...so that was odd. Maybe I was just going too fast? Pulling into my driveway I heard another (different) nasty scrape, and felt it in the steering wheel.

Once in the garage I really started looking at things. What I found was just embarrassing. The body shop rushed the car out during the reassembly phase. I'll just say they did a piss poor job of reassembling the front end. The bumper wasn't on correctly and was bulging out on the bottom...that was the scrape on the dip. Then the aux radiator in the driver's side fenderwell wasn't aligned properly and it was pushing on the inner fender liner which rubbed the tire when I turned the wheel. There were other problems I could see too, but my concern was if this was what I could see without digging into anything what were all the hidden problems that I couldn't see.

After a week of filing reports with USAA and their escalation team I got them to reaccept the car for a full inspection in my presence with a USAA rep there too. We went back to the body shop, they put the car on the rack and pulled the front bumper assembly off. Glad they did because there was a lot of workmanship issues we identified. I also noted some missing clips/gaskets/etc internal to the bumper assembly. They took notes and everything I noted as deficient they agreed to fix on their dime under their lifetime warranty since I already took delivery of the car. They also provided me with a rental during this period on their dime.

I also requested they provide a INPA like readout of all the ABS and Airbag modules to show me that there were no faults in the system. And since the front end was removed and reinstalled I got them to put it back on the alignment rack and show me that the alignment was in spec too.

It took them 10d to fix the car...and I just picked it up about 2hr ago:

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It's a bit difficult to get good pictures of a black on black car...so I'll get something better than these cell phone pics shortly, but this is as of today! She's together, all warrantied, and flawless!!!!
 
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