And So It Begins
When you buy the car that is everything you didn’t want and suddenly, everything goes right!
By Btz Thibodeau
What an interesting and exciting journey this has been so far and we’re just getting started! Buying my first BMW has been a life changing experience, let me tell you how!
So by day (and night) I a was a DJ/Producer/Graphic Designer etc. I’d spent the majority of the last 20 years of my life focused on that and didn’t have much time for many other things like sports, hobbies etc. I’ve always been a huge car nut though and throughout the years I’ve kept myself fairly informed via magazines and the internet so I do have a decent understanding of the basics. I’ve never been much of a hands on guy though except for when I used to run a Jiffy Lube back in the late 90’s/early 2000s. Before owning my 1 series, I had never even changed my own brake pads though, so my experience physically working on them was, and still currently is, pretty limited other than oil changes and fluids. I hope my success with my BMW can be an inspiration for others like me and my failures can be a learning tool (there have already been a few ).
I’ve had a couple of decent cars over the years but never a real “drivers” car even though I have always longed for one and I have always had a lot of fun driving whatever I can get my hands on. I was real big into the Volkswagen scene back in the 90s and I had a couple of my own but I never got to really mod them the way I always dreamed of.
More recently I had a 2007 Pontiac G6 GT that I bought near brand new and I really loved it. I owned it for about 6 years and it was fully paid off when it was smashed into by a negligent driver, totaling it. I bought another 2007 G6 GT after that, to get me around town and what not but it wasn’t in anywhere near as good of condition as my prior G6 was and I really longed for something faster and better suited for autocross and the like. I was really interested in getting a Pontiac G8 as I had loved my G6 but the GXP versions with decent mileage are still in the $30K range and that was well over my budget. I had a GTO in mind as they are rear wheel drive and have a big V8 and were more affordable than a G8 and I was even about to go test drive one locally that was in my price range. I had already driven quite a few other cars including a JCW Mini Cooper and none of them quite did it for me.
The thing with the GTO is, it’s not quite what I was looking for. Some of the things that I loved about the G6 were, 4 doors, semi-manual, quiet exhaust (intake really louder than exhaust) and all around it’s really just a sleeper. No one expects it to be quick and it doesn’t turn any heads, though I always loved the look of mine which was a very dark charcoal grey of sorts (I forget the exact color name). I could floor it right next to a cop on foot and unless you chirped the tires, they wouldn’t even notice! I also didn’t want something that looks like it should be fast like a Mustang (though I do love the new ones) or a Charger/Challenger, etc. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of options!
So, I was on the hunt for something along those lines but with more POWAH and the G8 would have been a perfect fit, especially with rear wheel drive, 4 doors, semi-manual and around 400 hp. I was also interested in finding a car someone had already put work into as you really never get back what you put into it and I could make out on the deal.
So, I’m cruising my local CraigsList, as I had been, and I came across this BMW that was about an hour’s drive from me and I thought, what the hell, I’ll go give it a test drive. It already had a bunch of mods done to it and driving it couldn’t hurt right It was pretty much the exact opposite of what I wanted though including the fact that I did not want a “premium brand” sitting in my driveway because even if you spend a lot less on your Bimmer/Audi/Benz, than your neighbors Camry, it just has that “image” of expensive or whatever. Lots of people don’t know what a G8 is and wouldn’t even look twice at it though they are not cheap and plenty capable!
So, I take the journey down to Hartford to check out this 135i that I pretty much know nothing about other than reading the mod list and maintenance list. I drove it for 10 or 15 minutes and then spent about 30 minutes sitting in the drivers seat talking with the owner… and falling in love (though the smell of Black Ice was sickening ) I’m not even a big fan of blue but as soon as I saw her, I knew she was the girl for me and we quickly started getting acquainted. I left the first test drive not letting the owner know how much I was really interested and went home to think things over and do a little research. I was still interested in a V8 but this little Bimmer had really gotten my attention and the fuel savings of a 6 over an 8 couldn’t hurt either.
After discussing a bunch of concerns with the owner and getting the price down from 10 to 9K (the seller was asking 12k from the previous buyer but it didn’t go through), I headed out the following day with my buddy Matt in his badass pickup with an enclosed trailer in tow to bring my new baby home in style. We arrived in CT around noon and after a final inspection and going over a few things, my new Bimmer was loaded up on the trailer and on her way home!!
That was just about 5 months ago and I went on vacation just a few days after getting her home, so at this point, I’ve been driving my BMW for just over 4 months.
In that time, I have spent an insane amount of time on forums (mostly 1Addicts) learning everything that I can about my e82, the N54 engine and anything and everything BMW related. I dove head first into this culture as it’s been long over do for me and I quickly became a member of my local BMW CCA, started attending all sorts of events, sometimes up to five per week, started doing lots of modifications and maintenece and I added my first couple of stickers, 1Addicts and MassBMW. I have some serious plans for my 135i, especially after seeing some incredible builds on the forums which really inspired me. We’ll be documenting the journey right here on Bimmer TV. My 135i will be a show car as well as a track car and a daily driver.
Let’s start with the good. Overall she runs great and I’ve taken her on multiple long trips and for the most part, she doesn’t miss a beat. I’ve already put about another 8,000 miles on the odometer since we first met! Being that she has over 160,000 miles now, issues are to be expected and I am willing to deal with them as they come up but a lengthy list of maintenance and upgrades have already been done. Below is a list of mods she came with as well as maintenance items that were done prior to purchase.
Aluminum Interior Trim
6 Speed MT
RI M1 Bumper
VRSF 7″ Intercooler
aFe Cold Air Intake
H&R Sport Springs
VMR 18″ Wheels
Black High Gloss Grilles
Carbon Fiber Spoiler
aFe Air Scoops
Straight Pipe Exhaust/Stock Muffler (For Now)
MFactory Single Mass Fly Wheel
335is Clutch Kit
ER Charge Pipe
MHD Stage 2+ Tune
Some Maintenance Items
Multiple Seals Replaced incl. Rear Main Seal
All Fluids Replaced
So, as you can see, quite a lot has already been done and it’s definitely one of the reasons I bought her. I know the car has obviously been driven hard though I don’t think the previous owner really did and some may not want to go that route but for me, having so much already done is a big bonus and I’m really happy so far!
Now, on to the issues my 135i had when I purchased it…
Strange rattle coming from somewhere near the e-brake or under the rear seat. Had it up on a lift and couldn’t find anything obvious. It was really apparent under initial acceleration but could be heard under a lot of different circumstances though it wasn’t always there. Ended up being the drive shaft center bearing that was rattling. Pretty scary because when we ended up getting to it, the bolts fell out when we removed the shrouding!!
Boost Leak – 30FF Code Unfortunately. this was really taking away from the driving experience as I easily got a CEL and limp mode under full acceleration. The seller did inform me of this and said it was likely a leak in a hose somewhere. For the most part, it looks like all boost related hoses had been replaced and the clamps used on the intercooler, charge pipe, etc, are pretty diesel and don’t seem to be an issue though I did tighten everything down to make sure. I also replaced all of the vacuum lines with upgraded red ones. The boost leak ended up being from the wastegates which we ended up adjusting to solve the problem NOT AN EASY JOB!). Afterwards she was pushing just shy of 18 lbs of boost! There is still a rattle on one of the wastegates but we’re going to try and adjust it a bit more to see if we can quiet things down even more.
I have also replaced both of the Boost Solenoids just to be sure.
SMFW Chatter – Known issue when using the single mass fly wheel with these cars, Not really an issue but it is quite annoying when you have some accessories like A/C running. Stops when clutch engaged.
DME Active Code – 2B3A DMTL – System Fault – Had to replace the DTML pump.
SME Shadow – 2AAF – Fuel Pump Plausibility – This one still needs to be attended to.
Tires rubbing on hard impacts, especially the rear passenger side. This was also really detracting from the driving experience as I couldn’t corner full out at all on a left hand turn and the sheet metal was eating away at my tire quite a bit on that side. I did roll the fenders some with a friend but we ended up just cutting off some of the lip in the rear to remedy the situation. There was too much spray liner built up in the corners to roll them enough. All better now 😀
Other Things I have already fixed (or tried to)
A/C Recharge – Was blowing hot in cold weather but had it recharged and all is good. Made it through the summer without any issues.
All dents removed – There were probably 10 on the hood alone and some other major ones, not any more! Well that was prior to her getting hit while parked. You’ll find out more about that soon enough.
Full interior/exterior detail and wax – This thing was filthy when I got it and the paint was full of scratches! I did some serious cleaning myself and then dropped it off at the local detailer to get treated by the pros (though they didn’t do a very good job and I won’t be back!)
Horn not Working – Of course I needed it about 10 times as soon as I started driving the car. Easy fix, replace mini fuse.
Replaced Muffler – I will be doing a quad exhaust in the future but the car came with a straight pipe and while it was fun for a bit, it was just too loud and droned really bad on the highway. I found a stock 135i exhaust on CraigsList for $250 and talked him down to $150. That’s what is on there now and it is much more bearable but I still get some burbles and pops from the catless downpipes and midpipes.
Peeling Steering Wheel Trim – Wrapped with 3M Carbon Fiber Vinyl Wrap – Low cost and looks great. Took about an hour as it’s a tricky piece but for my 1st try, it came out pretty good and looks way better than it did before, success! I’ll be tying the Carbon Fiber theme in more and bits and pieces have been coming in and going on.
Replace All Roundels – I replaced all of the BMW roundels with the Black and White “Carbon Fiber” ones including, hood, trunk, rims, engine cover and steering wheel cover. I also treated the hood and trunk ones with UV Resistant Clear Coat to protect them from discoloration. Having been in the scene longer now though I have realized that almost everyone ends up going with these ones so I have something really unique in store for the future, stay tuned.
Front License Plate Frame – Gotta have it in Mass as it’s totally not worth the moving violation ticket. I got the tow hook type so I can take it off at shows and replace with a tow hook/strap.
Headlights – They still looked like sh*t after getting the car back from the deatiler so I had to DYI them. Ended up taking me a couple of tries and two different headlight restoration kits but in the end I got the job done and they came out pretty good!
Wiper Arms – So these were looking very dull as can be expected after 150,000 miles and I really can’t stand that! Decided to try and tackle them myself, should have watched a few YouTube videos first (I Did after). I used high gloss paint when I should have used satin and lots of little imperfections showed up. Now they need to be wet sanded down and then hit with a self filling primer 1st, then painted. Lesson learned.
Side Note – The car looks SO GOOD with a wiper delete I generally just keep them off! They are in the trunk just in case of rain but for the most part we go without.
Lower Bumper Grilles (L/R) – These were a matte grey and didn’t at all match the kidney grilles which are black gloss or the center lower grille which is black but needs gloss added. I hit em with a few coats of High Gloss black spray paint and they look way better now, success!
“Carbon Fiber” Rear License Plate Frame – Looks clean as it clips closed so there are no screws showing but I should have paid more attention to the pics online. Though it does look like carbon fiber in a way, it’s a more “squared” pattern and not the normal “angular” pattern that my spoiler and most other carbon fiber items have. I’ll be replacing it in the future but for now it was a cheap mod that def looks better than it did before!
We’ve done a whole list of other maintenance items as well like the rear shift shaft seal and valve cover gasket and I’ve done some modifications and upgrades like blacked out side indicators, new shift knob, e-brake handle, shifter and e-brake boots, LED red lights up front (for shows), new tint and more. The rest you’ll just have to watch the channel to find out about!
So at this point you might be thinking, ok you got a BMW, I still don’t see how this changed your whole life! Well, you’ll just have to read part 2 to find out! If you actually made it through all of part 1, kudos to you! It’s Bimmer Time!