Wednesday, May 2, 2012

100. Low and slow baby! Suspension and celebration!

About 6 months ago, my steering wheel started shaking when I was doing approximately 100-120 km/h in a left hand turn. I took it to a mechanic, one I really trust, and he told me to park it up, or I'll lose a wheel... huh.
One of the tie rods was completely bust. At that point, I decided to do a complete overhaul of my front end.
I went on eBay, and I bought this:

It costed me 116€ - that's about 150-155 USD. That's what I call a good buy. Of course, everyone was (still is, probably) skeptical about the quality, but I've covered about 20k km already with these parts, and everything still seems like new. If anyone wants to know where I found this kit - here's the link:

Here's my car floating in mid air:

Right, at that point, I also decided to 'drop' my car. So, we installed Vogtland springs that I already had.
(You can read about them here: 73. Suspension and brakes on my E36 318is)
Here's a couple of shots taken on the way home:

Sorry about the bad quality... I soaked my camera while washing the car :)

And, a little celebration note...

This is my 100th post on this blog! Yeey! And, I still have quite a lot to share :)
Thank you all for reading and especially commenting! :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

99. Installing rear sunblind in a BMW E36 sedan

Original BMW rear sun blinds are quite rare, especially in sedans. I was hunting for one for almost a year. And, in the end, I got one for free, from a forum member here in Slovenia. It's almost a month now, and I still can't believe it. He really made my day nicer - no, not day - probably the whole year. And, the rear rolo is now probably my favorite part in the car.

Well, the rear blind came together with the rear shelf, but without the small pins that hold it open. I ordered those from BMW, and I paid about $20 for pair. Here are the part numbers: (found on
  • Hook left: 51 16 1 977 027
  • Hook right: 51 16 1 977 028
  • Supplementary set sun blind: 82 11 9 400 664

P.S. You can still buy the whole thing at your dealer. They don't have the retrofit set any more, but it's still available as separate parts.

If you don't buy it with a pre-cut rear shelf, you can cut your own shelf, and install the rear sun screen rolo without any trouble.

So, here's how my installation went...

I got my hooks and some plastic clips from BMW:

Then, I had to remove my rear bench and rear headrests. If you need more info on removing rear headrests, check out my last post! After that, remove the rear reading lights, c-pillar covers and the plastic trim around the seatbelts. Using a 16mm socket wrench, unbolt the seat belts at the bottom of the seat. Take care how things were assembled, so you'll put everything back in the way it was. Here's how everything looks when you take it all apart:

To fit a shelf with a sun blind rolo, you'll have to take out the foam that was under your regular shelf. Install everything the same way you took things out. Reverse order, naturally. In the end, you have to put those little hooks that will hold the sunscreen open. I couldn't find any instruction on how to mount them, and they really look weird... I thought I would have to take the roof lining off or something. But, no - they just slide in onto their spots... Between the roof lining and the roof, there are small grooves, or small metal slots or something. You can feel them with your fingers. And you just slide the hooks in between the roof and lining. Hopefully, you'll get the idea from the pictures:

And that's it. Put everything back in, and you have a nice piece of OEM equipment that's quite rare and hard to find. Here's two more shots of the completed project:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

98. Installing sport seats in my E36

I have been searching for sport seats for a very long time. Vader seats are a bit too expensive for me, and electrical seats as well. But, I did manage to find a cheap set for my E36. I paid 100$ for the whole interior.

Take  a quick peek at the next photo - you'll find out why I wanted new seats:

This is how the 'new' seats looked when I brought them home.

Believe it or not, you can pack the complete interior into your E36. And you'll still have room for one passenger. :) Well, the first thing was to take out the old interior. The front seats are held in place with 2 16 mm bolts and two 16 mm nuts each. You have to slide the seat forward, and then backward to take them out. Before that, take off the plastic covering caps with a small flat screwdriver. Seat belts are fixed to the seat with one torx screw on each side. And, the passenger seat has a passenger occupancy sensor which has to be disconnected. Note: Disconnect your car's battery before disconnecting this sensor. Wait about 15 minutes for the system to discharge.

After that, you can pull out your rear bench. And, I really mean 'pull out'. Pull the bottom part upwards, and then pull the backrest towards the front of the car. Open both rear doors to pull it out.

How to remove rear headrests on a BMW E36?

This was the most tricky part of the job. I tried to pull them out, pry them out with a crowbar, and I tried to knock them out from underneath. And they didn't pop out. Well, the trick is to raise your rear shelf for just a couple of centimeters. Under it, you'll find safety pins that hold the headrests in place. Take them out, and that's it. Take a look at the picture to see what I mean:

And that's pretty much that. Install everything back in the reverse order, and you're done. You should finish the job in under an hour. I also vacuumed my car, since it was like it has seen a world war or something. :)
Here are some more pictures...

Monday, April 9, 2012

97. E36 18 Button OBC Unlocking Secret Codes and Functions

Unlocking secret codes on the BMW E36 18 button OBC is simple, and very useful. With it, you can disable your Check Control (If your car isn't equipped with one), you can adjust your fuel consumption readout, change the language of the module and see additional real-time data about your car. And more...

How to unlock 18 button OBC board computer

  1. Press 1000 and 10.
  2. At the TEST prompt, enter 19.
  3. Press SET/RES, and you should see LOCK:ON.
  4. Press the DATE key.
  5. Add the two date numbers (month and day) together (Example - today is April 9th, so you add April (04) and 9th (09) - that gives us 13.
  6. Enter the number you've calculated (13), and press SET/RES.
  7. That should unlock the OBC :)

How to turn off Check Control Inactive message on the 18 button OBC

  1. Hold down 1000 and 10 to access hidden menu.
  2. At the TEST prompt, enter 11 and press SET/RES.
  3. You should get EINHEIT 1: ## readout.
  4. Change the EINHEIT value to 75 using 10 and 1 buttons.
  5. Press SET/RES.
  6. Change to EINHEIT 2: ## using 1000 and 100 buttons.
  7. Set EINHEIT 2 value to FF using 10 and 1 buttons.
  8. Press SET/RES and you're done.

BMW E36 OBC Menu List

  1. Display test
  2. Current consumption L/100km
  3. Current consumption L/h
  4. Average Consumption
  5. Current range
  6. Average Fuel in Tank (L)
  7. Current Speed (km/h)
  8. System Voltage
  9. Country - Language setting
  10. Check control setting
  11. Average Speed (km/h)
  12. ETA
  13. OBC Software date 
  14. Production diagnosis
  15. Production diagnosis
  16. Display vehicle specific data
  17. Alarm setting
  18. OBC Lock & Unlock
  19. Correction factor for consumption
  20. OBC Reset
Well, that's most of it - please note, that some versions have different codes. If this doesn't work for you, leave a comment, and we'll try to figure something out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

96. BMW E36 18 Button OBC Retrofit

18 button on board computer (18 button OBC) is a great toy that you can easily install into your BMW E36. It doesn't really matter if you've already got another OBC, or you have the analog clock. As well, it really doesn't matter if you have a 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder engine. First thing's first - what kind of BMW on board computers are available?

Note: Click on the image for a larger view

1: 18 button on board computer (OBC)

2: Check control module with outside temperature and clock:

3: Check control module with digital clock:

4: Outside temperature and clock display:

All of the above listed units use special connectors. Units with less functionality have one connector. 18 button OBC has two connectors. Hopefully, you've bought these connectors (with some wire) together with the big OBC. If you don't have the connectors, you can build your own. (More on this later.)


Read the whole article before starting any work on your car.

Before working on your car, disconnect your battery. Wait for about 30 minutes for the system to discharge. You don't want your airbag light to go on, or even worse, the airbag itself. All information provided here worked for me, on my own car - 1996 316i sedan. Wire colors and component locations may vary according to model year and car specification. I do not take any responsibility for damages to your car and/or injuries you suffered following this DIY. Do It Yourself at your own risk.

List of components needed for 18 button OBC retrofit:

  • 18 button OBC unit
  • 2 connectors with some wire (one black, one white)
  • External temperature sensor
  • Gong (buzzer, chime)
  • Turn signal leaver with BC button (OBC Stalk)
  • Wires - a lot of them
Note, that only the actual 18 button display unit is really necessary. Everything else is optional.
If you need additional reference, original BMW parts are listed at the end of the article.

List of tools needed for the job:

  • Shrinking thermo tubes
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Insulation tape
  • Screwdrivers
  • 16mm socket wrench
  • Torx 30
You'll need about 4 hours for the job. Beer breaks included. A quick summary of the tasks: Removing the steering wheel (and airbag, if necessary), taking out the instrument cluster, putting in new wires, replacing the turn signal leaver, connecting everything up, and putting the car back together...

Here's an photo of my new 18 button OBC vs. my old analog clock:

(The clock is upside-down... I know.)

List of connectors with codes

  • X1070 - Black connector on the OBC
  • X1071 - White connector on the OBC
  • X16 - White connector on the Instrument Cluster
  • X17 - Blue connector on the Instrument Cluster
So, let's get down to business.

DIY - Step by step

1. Remove your steering wheel.
There's some more information and pictures on removing the steering wheel in one of my older posts:

81. E39 to E36 Steering wheel retrofit DIY

2. Remove your instrument cluster.  There are two bolts at the top of the cluster. Remove the dashboard lower cover (under the steering wheel), and the plastic steering column covers.

3. If you have EWS, and want to use the CODE function of the OBC, then remove the glove box compartment.

4. Remove the analog clock (or the 'smaller' OBC unit), and the plastic panel under it - the one holding additional buttons (seat heating, asc, hi-fi...) and cigarette lighter.

So, by now, your car should look like it's ready for the junkyard. Here's a couple of photos for reference:

5. Prepare your OBC connectors. If you're lucky, you are doing an upgrade, and you already have one of those connectors. Since I was replacing my analog clock, I didn't have them. And to make things a bit more complicated, I only had one connector for my OBC. So, I had to make the other one. Here's how the back of the 18 button OBC looks:

According to the list of connectors, the black one is X1070, and the white one is X1071. They look similar to the ones behind the instrument cluster, but they are smaller. But, that's a good start - if you can't find the right connectors, you can source two connectors from an instrument cluster, and modify them. It might be a good idea to get a couple of extras, since you'll probably need some additional pins from them. So, a couple of images, so you can see what I'm talking about:

a) Rear of the instrument cluster - note the blue X17 and white X16 connectors:

b) The white connector from the instrument cluster - take it apart, and cut it to fit your OBC:

6. Replace your turn signal leaver with the OBC stalk. A fairly straight forward process. The old one just unclips from the steering column, and the new one snaps in.

7. Mount the gong (chime, speaker). It has five wires. They should be connected like this:
  • (blue/white) --> [X1070] Pin #10 (note: you can do this later)
  • (red/white) --> [X1070] Pin #11 (note: you can do this later)
  • (black/red) --> [X17] Pin #09
  • (brown) --> Earth (any brown wire)
  • (red/yellow) --> Old clock (red/yellow)
8. Mount the outside temperature sensor - it's usually mounted on the front bumper, in the left air duct. There are only two wires for the sensor. One that goes to the OBC, and ground. There should be a ground connection behind the headlamps.
9. Here's a list of the pins that you need to connect, for the 18 button OBC to work:
  • [X1070] Pin #06  --> [X17] Pin #26
  • [X1070] Pin #09  --> [X17] Pin #04
  • [X1070] Pin #10  --> Gong (blue/white)
  • [X1070] Pin #11  --> Gong (red/white)
  • [X1070] Pin #12  --> Temperature sensor
  • [X1070] Pin #13  --> [X17] Pin #02
  • [X1070] Pin #14  --> Wire under steering wheel (violet/white)
  • [X1070] Pin #15  --> [X17] Pin #24 
  • [X1070] Pin #16  --> Old clock (grey/red) 
  • [X1070] Pin #17  --> Old clock (brown)
  • [X1070] Pin #18  --> Old clock (red/yellow)

Friday, December 30, 2011

95. Happy New Year

Hi guys'n'girls!

This is my last post for this year. So, I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year!

So, what can you expect from this blog in 2012 ?

  1. I'll redesign it - current template decided it's time for retirement... huh
  2. I'll try to organize posts trough tags, for easier browsing
  3. I'll refresh (and reupload) the Downloads section
  4.  New posts:
    1. DIY installation of a 18 button OBC
    2. My suspension upgrade - 5000km report
    3. I'll show our 'new' 1996 E36 compact (316i)
    4. Last photos from our drift car project...
    5. A general post about all stuff related to our cars... mostly, what went wrong
    Thank you all for following, and especially thank you all for commenting!

    Until the new posts are up, you can visit my BMW related Squidoo Lenses:

    DIY Installing BMW Angel Eyes

    BMW M3 CRT

    10 fun facts: BMW

    Best gifts for BMW drivers

    BMW M3 GTS

    Quiz: BMW E36 - Ultimate quiz