Saturday, March 28, 2020

[M3] Little changes, 16" wheel and tire woes

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

[also note: I have condensed multiple forum posts into this entry, please forgive awkward transitions]

I installed a few small bits and bobs here and there. First was the e30ig (innovative goods) one-touch window module. This slick component goes in-line between the vehicle harness and your window switches, and converts them to 1-touch function. It took nearly 2 months for them to arrive from Eastern Europe but it was worth the wait. They work perfectly and while it's a small thing, I love the convenience. Apparently I didn't take any photos showing them fitted but you can check the website.

The next thing, another small one, was the passenger side mirror glass. The magnification was strong, too strong, so I bought a $14 wider angle piece from Latvia via eBay. You can see the difference in field of view in these images. Way better.

The new mirror glass is TYC part number 303-0071-1. It says it doesn't fit M3, but it does. I'm not sure if it's getting hung up on a heated mirror option or something but it fits the same as any E30.

My car's got a fair few rock chips on the front end and the wipers have not been spared. I pulled them off to refinish them, that is still work in progress. It's rainy so I can't paint them, it's rainy so I need to use them on the car. Lose-lose.

So it's just been maintenance and projects at home over the past couple of weeks. I haven't been crazy about the feel of my brake pedal - good stopping power when you get there, but too much pedal travel required to get to it - so I bled the brakes. Side note, I am really enjoying my new QuickJack setup I bought earlier this year, I was on the fence for 3 years about spending the money but it's so great.

In fact, I like it so much I used it on my Focus to do the brakes...

...and on my wife's car to rotate the tires.

Speaking of invaluable tools: pressure brake bleeder. If you do brakes with any frequency, get one. I'm lucky that the same cap fits my E30 reservoir and my Focus RS. Makes flushing the fluid an absolute breeze.

My car runs quite a bit of rear camber with the H&R spring setup and I found that my right-rear was shot. Oof. Outboard channel of the tire was at 6/32", inboard at 2/32", and you can see that they need to be replaced pronto. After this post I'm off to shop for 16" tires, I suspect it will be slim pickings. It has been my master plan to have the wheels refurbished in Sport Evo style with Nogaro centers when new tires were needed, but I'm not sure now is a great time to do that. The good news is that I have a set of stock 15s with good tires that can swap in to keep the car on the road. Do I have any options to adjust the camber in the rear to not keep destroying tires?

In any case, the brake bleed produced some tired-looking fluid and I've got a better pedal feel now. Previously it was so low that I couldn't heel-toe and that's no good... that ability has been restored. I am doing my best to avoid human contact but every now and then I slip out for a little Point-A-to-Point-A drive and enjoy the empty roads. Stay safe everybody!

I've got 15mm spring pads in the mail. Since that tweaks ride height, and I have no idea where the alignment on this car is, I will have it aligned when I get new tires fitted.

When I took the Model 3 to the tire shop for new rubber I took my 16s and had the tires pulled off so the wheels can be refinished. I thought wheel refurb was a pretty easy thing but apparently there aren't tons of places in the area that can be trusted to do a good job. It seems like every place has 9 good reviews and 1 horror show review, and that's enough to give me pause. This reminds me of my ordeal trying to find someone to do the bodywork on my last Lachs car, a search I eventually abandoned. With all of the automotive shops out there these days, it amazes me that it is nigh impossible to find someone who does good work, stands behind it, communicates well, and charges fairly. To me that is the most basic of operating requirements to run a business. In the Bay Area it is the exception, and those few shops suffer from their own popularity and you need to wait months for an appointment. Or they charge $175 an hour. Sorry, went off on a tangent there.

I called up one that seems to be of good repute and the guy shot me down immediately when I described painting the wheels two-tone with Nogaro centers. "We only spray one color, we don't do any masking or anything like that. I think you want a body shop!" Well... to me it's not supremely difficult - one tape line, and there is physical step in the lip to guide you, not on the basketweave part, OEM colors. I did get in touch with one local paint shop and he's mulling it over.

One thing I need help on: the inside of the Sport Evo rim is Nogaro, which is BMW paint code 243. I am not sure of the paint code for the 'normal' silver bit that goes on the lip. Google tells me it is BMW code 144 "wheel silver" but it seems that color is applied on E46, E90, etc. If anyone can offer paint code insight, or wheel refinishing guidance, it is greatly appreciated. The FB crowd already told me to just buy Sport Evo wheels, but from where I'm sitting they're backordered, the center caps who knows, and they're $2500 anyway. I can pay a fair amount on this refinishing and still come out ahead.

When it comes times for tires - it's well-known that there is not much at all in 225/45R16. It's funny to search the forums and see that it's been dire for a decade at least... there are 2010 threads where people are complaining about the same. So if you're searching this in the future, hello! Did we recover from COVID? Did we solve automotive autonomy? Is this the point where China overtook the US as the world's leading superpower? Did we send humans to Mars? Do the 2022 F1 cars ACTUALLY solve the dirty air problems and improve passing? Sorry, shelter-in-place is getting to me.

For posterity, these are the 225/45/16 tire choices as of 3/28/20 in the US from TireRack:
Dunlop Direzza ZIII - $160.36 
Toyo Proxes R1R - $150.36
Yokohama Advan A052 - $210.74
Toyo Proxes R888R - $148.99

I know that opinions will vary on this, but I am disappointed that all of the options are high-grip, high-performance tires. On my last car I went from the Kumho all-season whatevers that came on the stock 15s to Dunlop Direzza Z2 Star Specs on 17s and it really changed the feel of the car. Ultimate grip is cool but with this low-power RWD configuration it's sad when you can't chuck the back end out now and then. Too much grip is a real thing. If you've been on high performance tires for a long time with your car, throw your neglected 15s back on for an afternoon and you might be surprised at how different the whole car feels.

But beggars can't be choosers, and I am set on the 16s, so at this stage I believe I will go with the Toyo R1Rs. From the reading I've done it seems that they perform well in the wet. I don't go out for fun drives in the wet, but I do go on fun drives up on Skyline boulevard, which is misty and foggy most mornings and there can be a fair amount of water on the road.

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