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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > N54 Turbo Engine / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications - 335i > 335i E90 LCI – Experiences and review of various modifications (long!)



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      09-25-2011, 09:58 AM   #111
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Thanks Alpina...
One of the best threads on this forum
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      09-25-2011, 10:21 AM   #112
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REVIEW: Bilstein PSS10 / B16 Ride Control coilover (long!)

20. Bilstein B16 Ride Control coilover on E90 335i LCI

Why?

As you may have read in my review about various M3 suspension pieces that can be installed in a 335i as well as the Quaife differential (see here: REVIEW: M3 suspension parts & Quaife limited slip differential ), I've been in the game for improving the suspension of my 335i for some time. The M3 pieces that have been installed so far have already had a considerable positive effect on the steering response, manoeuverability and decrease of body-roll, as well as provided me with a much more direct feedback from the road.

However, that was only the first step - I always intended to replace the core parts of the suspension (i.e. the springs and dampers) with something more sophisticated. I was never interested in just lowering the car, which is why there never was the question of just installing different springs and be done with it (although this could have already improved the suspension as well, at least somewhat). As a consequence, the only serious solution lay in a complete sports suspension or coilover kit, with matched springs and dampers.

Another factor that influenced my decision making process was that I needed a suspension that was approved by the German TÜV (the technical inspection), as my car is registered in Germany and a different suspension would immediately be visible. Therefor, some kits that for example HP Autowerks offers were no viable option, as it would be very difficult to get them TÜV approved. I did some research and found that, in general, people were quite positive about Bilstein suspensions which also have a very good name in Germany (where they are part of the big steel company Thyssen Krupp). There are also other really excellent kits out there now, such as the KW V3 coilover or the Öhlins Road & Track, but at the time I could not find any extensive reviews for the E90 platform of them and therefor excluded them.

Also, another important element was (and still is) that the suspension needed to be compliant and comfortable enough for me to allow me to drive it on a daily basis. My car is not a dedicated track car, and the roads in Europe are not always in a very good state; I therefor needed something that did not make me lose my fillings each time I went over a pothole or elicited screams of protest from various (in particular female) passengers.

In the end, there was one coilover that seemed to fit all those requirements: the Bilstein B16 Ride Control. It is based on their latest high-end coilover PSS10 with the difference that you cannot manually change the compression/rebound settings but it is specially setup in two preset damper positions for road use and sports use, with the control by way of an electronic control unit mounted in the cockpit of the car. Effectively, you lose the full adjustability of the standard manual PSS10 coilovers, but gain in-cabin electronically switchable control over two damping setups. In both modes, the spring height/ride height remains the same - it is only the damping rate that is adjusted. Ride height can be adjusted when installing the springs, as there is an adjustable spring perch which lowers the car between 30mm and 50mm from standard ride height.

The dampers themselves are an inverted monotube design, gas-pressured, and married to matching shortened springs. They are a direct replacement for the OEM BMW suspension setup, although the Ride Control system requires wiring into the cabin for both operation and power.

Bilstein developed this kit partially for the Nissan GTR, but also offers similar kits for Porsches (called Damptronic in that case) and apparently tested this extensively on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

It seemed to me a great compromise between having sufficient ride comfort and being able to enjoy the car on the track. Something else that convinced me were two positive reviews of two of my friends here on the forum, as well as test drives I did with both their cars:

*** Review - Bilstein B16/PSS10 Ride Control Coilover Suspension on E92 335i
Teaser: Bilstein Ride Control Suspension installed

I would like to take the opportunity here to thank both of them for their availability and the opportunity to test the suspension extensively. Thanks guys!!

How?

I got my kit used from a forum member who did not need it any more; if you're in the market for it, you can for example order it from Turner Motorsport: Turner Motorsport / Bilstein B16 Ride Control. The retail price is 3400 USD (!), although you can now get it for 2600 USD. In Europe you pay around 2000 EUR for a new set.

I had it installed at my usual garage, Daum Motorsport. The mechanical installation is rather straightforward, and the kit comes with a very comprehensive installation manual as well as all the parts you need to install it. Also, annexed to the manual is a TÜV certificate should you need it (such as in my case). Very methodical and practical!

The more difficult part of the installation is the cabling for the internal control module and switch, in particular as you have to run wires from each damper to the control unit in the cabin and install the control knob so that you can use it while driving. In the two above mentioned reviews, both had the knob installed in the ashtray, which I found a perfect solution. Taking power to the unit is simple - however routing the control module through the existing grommets in the bulkhead, and then running the control cable behind the dashboard into the ashtray area was a real pain - in particular as virtually every interior trim panel had to come out so the wires could be routed inside the OEM channels.

A few photos of the various parts of the complete suspension (front assembly, rear assembly, cabling etc.):

Before the installation - parts photos (1):


Before the installation - parts photos (2):


Before the installation - parts photos (3):


Before the installation - parts photos (4):


Before the installation - parts photos (5):


And here are some photos of how it looks installed (sorry for the dirt but they were taken quite some time after the installation…):

Front strut assembly:


Front strut assembly - a closer look:


Rear axle:


Rear axle (2):


Suspension button - behind the ashtray lid:


How the car looks (1):


How the car looks (2):


As you can see, it sits extremely low - although the Bilstein manual mentions a drop of 30mm over stock, it looks quite a bit more to my eyes. And bear in mind that the suspension is set to the highest ride setting possible.

Improvements?

When I first sat in the car and started to drive, I had the impression I was sitting in another car. So big was the difference! Not only you're sitting closer to the road itself (due to the lowering of the car), but you feel much more connected to it. The car feels much more settled, it only shrugs nonchalantly at normal turns and even if pushing it, there is very little body roll as compared to the stock suspension. The dampers also worked quite well at smoothing out ruts and crests; the only problem they had was with short ridges / bumps which were quite noticeable to the passengers. Still, for a considerably lower coilover, the ride comfort was still very much in evidence, even on less-than-ideal back roads.

When pressing the Bilstein button into "Sport" mode, the rebound damping rates seem to become noticeably stiffer, and you have the feeling it is even more glued to the road than before, with vertical movements of the car being even more reduced. During normal traffic conditions on public roads, even very fast corners leave the car totally unperturbed, so high is the mechanical grip. Actually, when first approaching a corner at high speed I kept thinking about what the car would do - but it just sailed around it like on rails, as if it was saying "well, if that's all, I can go to sleep again". I do not use the "Sport" mode so much during normal driving, however, as it makes the car slightly more nervous and a little too reactive to my taste.

The real test came when I took the car to the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. Since its installation, I have done in total roundabout 100 laps with the Bilstein suspension in it. In summary it is far, far better than the OEM suspension, in that it gives you more confidence in the reaction of the car, its grip and the predictability, as well as making you more aware of weight transfer in corners as you're much more connected to the car. Gone is the often floaty sensation and the rather indirect body control of the stock suspension. In particular difficult sections like the Fuchsröhre that are a test for any suspension are far easier to negotiate, or the twists and turns of Hatzenbach.

Problems / disadvantages?

I have used the Bilstein suspension now for over a year, and there were unfortunately several problems with it.

Problem no. 1: Steering wheel sensor

After having the suspension installed and starting the car for the first time, a storm of warning lights popped up on the dash: DSC malfunction, active steering malfunction and several others that I do not remember right now. Also, the steering wheel was half-turned when the car drove straight, and the power steering was completely off.

What happened?

From what I understand after doing some research on the forums and speaking to BMW mechanics, the steering wheel sensor thought that the considerable lowering of the car was the sign of a serious malfunction of the car itself, and could not compensate for the difference in height. It apparently needs to be calibrated to the car's height (there is some margin, of course, but the monstrous lowering exceeded such margin) in order to be able to send its data on to the electronic assistance systems, power steering (or active steering in my case) included. As the signals were out of whack, the car shut down all those systems as they would otherwise rely on corrupted data.

What to do?

My shop could not solve the problem, as they did not have the necessary BMW systems in order to properly recalibrate the steering sensor. I therefor had to have it done at a BMW dealership, which set me back almost 600 EUR. Ouch!

Problem no. 2: Ride height

The car is just too low, even on the highest settings. Of course I did want it to be lower than the stock suspension (I did not even have the M suspension which is already 10mm lower), but it should not look totally slammed as it does now. Of course, optics are only one consideration (and are very subjective), but the practical disadvantages of the present ride height are considerable:
• Any entrance to a parking lot is problematic, as when going down a steep slope the front spoiler often gets into contact with the floor.
• If having to get towed away (which unfortunately happened to me a few weeks ago due to an oil leak), it can be very tricky to get it up on a tow truck as the front spoiler will be too low to negotiate the slope of the tow truck's trailer bed.
• The spring travel is so reduced that when driving faster over harsh bumps or potholes, the wheel often strikes through the spring travel and connects directly with the strut assembly and chassis. In the long run, that is good neither for the tires themselves (in particular 19" ones with their reduced diameter), nor for the car as a whole.

Here are a few photos in order to illustrate the ride height:

On the Nürburgring / entrance to the Karussell (1):


On the Nürburgring / in the Karussell (2):

On the Nürburgring / in the Karussell (3):


It seems to me - and my garage confirmed this - that the springs are far too weak for the car, resulting in the weight of the car compressing the springs so much that even at the highest setting it sits far too low, and has too little spring travel left. Most likely this is a result of Bilstein offering the identical kit for all 3 series, be it a 316i E90 or a 335i E93 - which all differ greatly in weight. In the German car forums I encountered a few other people with the same problem.

I tried to partially solve this problem by installing the "bad roads package" for the front axle (the rear will not fit due to the Bilstein coilover).

Bad Roads Package (front axle):


However, the problem remains as now I can set the car a bit higher (not much, though) on the front, but the rear end remains too low - which does not look well at all. I therefor left it more or less on the same setting as before.

Problem no. 3: Dampers / build quality

After a few months of driving the car, the front dampers started to make clunking noises which were in particular audible at low speeds. They also seemed to get worse when the car was driven hard (e.g. on the Nürburgring). A search in other BMW forums revealed that this was not an isolated case but actually a systematic problem with this suspension. However, Bilstein seemed to be aware of this, replacing the dampers without costs.

Unfortunately and to my disappointment, after running for a few months with new dampers, the same problem recurred and these new dampers also started making the same noises again. Not really what I expected of a so-called high-end suspension system; and even though Bilstein may again replace the faulty dampers, the removal and re-installation always costs a few hundred EUR, which I am reluctant to incur again and again.

Summary

The suspension is indeed quite good and a noticeable improvement over the stock suspension. I still enjoy it quite a lot, and (at least if you like your suspension on the sportive side) there is no problem driving it on a daily basis. Unfortunately these positive points are counterbalanced by the two above mentioned - and to me, serious - problems that I am unwilling to accept from a suspension at that price. Also, I have driven the PSS10 (i.e. the same suspension but with the possibility of manual adjustment of compression+rebound in 10 steps) and it seemed firmer to me.

It is likely that next spring I will replace the Bilstein with the Road & Track coilover from Öhlins, which a few people of this forum are also running (two of them being in England, which is great to have additional feedback) and that should not have the drawbacks of my current setup.

Alpina_B3_Lux
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      09-26-2011, 01:10 AM   #113
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Bilstein

I am running B14, which are almost half the price of B16, I have set the hight manually and the car drives perfect. No problems whatsoever. Maybe you just got a bad set.
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      09-26-2011, 01:25 AM   #114
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      09-26-2011, 01:34 AM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debitel View Post
I am running B14, which are almost half the price of B16, I have set the hight manually and the car drives perfect. No problems whatsoever. Maybe you just got a bad set.
I just measured mine, the front lip is 9 cm off the ground, so yours looks way too low.

Pics attached:

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      09-26-2011, 02:22 AM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debitel View Post
I am running B14, which are almost half the price of B16, I have set the hight manually and the car drives perfect. No problems whatsoever. Maybe you just got a bad set.
Yes, I've read that from other people with the B14, that problem does not seem to occur with this coilover.

However, the PSS10/B16 is a different one, and I know a few other people with identical problems (ride height, clunking noises), so it's nothing to do with a bad set, unfortunately.

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      09-26-2011, 02:31 AM   #117
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Awesome reviews, as always

The Bilstein B16 clunking noise problem is indeed not an isolated case. There's even a thread about this in the suspension subforum.
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      09-26-2011, 03:00 AM   #118
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Alpina,

Regarding the steering wheel sensor. I had this problem too after i made my changes to suspension and drivetrain. First my local shop solved this for me by hooking up the GT1 and calibrating it . They did this for a small fee , and it really is very simple. Later on i changed some stuff on the drivetrain by myself and got all the warning lights again. This time i calibrated it myself by turning the wheel lock to lock 5 times. Worked perfectly and never seen the warning lights again.

I also have the Bilstein suspension , PSS10's i have. My fronts will be replaced soon , Bilstein send my shop a new set and apparently they should be a revised model that should not "clunk" annymore

My front is very low too at maximum setting, but in the rear i have absolutely no height problems. I do have all the M3 parts in the rear with the Bilstein pss10 m3 shocks. But i have alot of room for height adjustment.

Regards,

Tim
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      09-26-2011, 07:34 PM   #119
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Alpina ! This is just the best post (subscribed).....great, great job !! It is enjoyable to write about these things isn't it? I find the more you put into your threads, the more analysis you are doing on what your car is doing and what you want out of it - lots of fun !

I was very interested in all... but the brakes and the M3 strut review for me made a lot of sense. My brakes are just about done.

The M3 strut brace - I would imagine this would keep the geometry of the front end more in alignment during hard cornering. I think I have to get this.

I have the wavetrac and all the M3 control arms front and rear. I am noticing that the car still doesn't track absolutely straight in hard accel/decel conditions. I have heard that you need the rear toe arms. What have you heard and are you planning on those?
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      09-27-2011, 03:32 AM   #120
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkmob View Post
Alpina,

Regarding the steering wheel sensor. I had this problem too after i made my changes to suspension and drivetrain. First my local shop solved this for me by hooking up the GT1 and calibrating it . They did this for a small fee , and it really is very simple. Later on i changed some stuff on the drivetrain by myself and got all the warning lights again. This time i calibrated it myself by turning the wheel lock to lock 5 times. Worked perfectly and never seen the warning lights again.
My shop didn't have a GT1, so that was unfortunately not an option. And I knew about the trick of turning the wheel, but that didn't change anything in my case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkmob View Post
I also have the Bilstein suspension , PSS10's i have. My fronts will be replaced soon , Bilstein send my shop a new set and apparently they should be a revised model that should not "clunk" annymore
Well, I've heard that before when I changed the dampers for the first time - and they also started making noises after a few months. I'm not willing to change them out endlessly and pay for postage and installation costs each time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaFish View Post
Alpina ! This is just the best post (subscribed).....great, great job !! It is enjoyable to write about these things isn't it? I find the more you put into your threads, the more analysis you are doing on what your car is doing and what you want out of it - lots of fun !

I was very interested in all... but the brakes and the M3 strut review for me made a lot of sense. My brakes are just about done.

The M3 strut brace - I would imagine this would keep the geometry of the front end more in alignment during hard cornering. I think I have to get this.

I have the wavetrac and all the M3 control arms front and rear. I am noticing that the car still doesn't track absolutely straight in hard accel/decel conditions. I have heard that you need the rear toe arms. What have you heard and are you planning on those?
Thanks for your kind words! And it's true, the more modifications you do, the more you learn about your car...although it's in the end a very expensive process!

I'm not planning on installing the rear toe arms, as I'd need to install M3 dampers for this; as mentioned in my review on the Bilstein suspension, I will go with Öhlins next year.

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      09-27-2011, 03:37 AM   #121
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I am having the same clunking noise on my pss10 and also think they are not firm at all even at highest/hardest settings. Maybe will go Öhlins to. will see.
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      10-02-2011, 08:39 AM   #122
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EVIEW: Replacement for stock oil cooler / VK Motorwerks + Setrab core

21. REVIEW: Replacement for stock oil cooler / VK Motorwerks + Setrab core

This is part of my extended review thread that you can find in its entirety here: 335i E90 LCI - Experiences and review of various modifications (long!) but that I reposted here separately in order to make this part easier to find.

Why?

As I've already mentioned in my extended review on the various modifications done to my car (see here: 335i E90 LCI - Experiences and review of various modifications (long!)), I've had the AR Design oil cooler installed in my car. It's the second version that is installed in front of the radiator and has a big Setrab core. Here are two photos of it installed but with the bumper removed for better visibility:

AR Design oil cooler - installed (1)


AR Design oil cooler - installed (2)


The AR Design oil cooler already improved things quite a bit, and compared to the stock setup (note: all cars in Europe - so mine as well - already have the stock oil cooler installed!), the oil temperatures rose much slower and peaked considerably lower. After driving thousands of kilometers with it, I would say that the delta (i.e. the difference in temperature between the stock setup and the addition of the AR Design oil cooler) is roughly around 10 degrees Celsius.

However, after switching from my initial Evotech flash (yielding around 400hp crank) to the GIAC stage 2 with even higher boost, I noticed that the oil temperatures were again too high: When going faster than 200 km/h, they rose to around 125 degrees Celsius (257 Fahrenheit), and if I went faster than 230 km/h, the temperatures even exceeded 130 degrees Celsius (266 Fahrenheit). Also, when driving with my car on the Nürburgring (Nordschleife), I also saw temperatures of slightly over 130 degrees Celsius.

I'm driving quite often in Germany, and it's frequently possible to drive faster than 230-250 km/h (155 mph) for some time; furthermore, I'm going to the 'Ring on a regular basis. As a consequence, the reliability of my car and the absence of any oil temperature-induced limp mode (which I didn't see until now) is of considerable importance to me - and oil temperatures of 130 degrees Celsius or beyond are not improving the long-term reliability and stress the engine as well as the turbos. I do believe that if I were to run my car under these high oil temperatures, the resulting thermal stress on the components would - not immediately, but after a while - lead to failure of one or the other component, if not the engine or the turbos as such. That was, obviously, not acceptable to me and I was looking for ways to further improve the oil cooling of my car.

How?

. I did some research and came upon three alternatives:
Evolution Racewerks Sports Series Oil Cooler Upgrade Kit: This kit replaces the stock oil cooler with a bigger core (795 USD)
STETT Performance oil cooler: Also replaces the stock core with a Setrab core, with the option of a thermostate delete or a modified thermostat.
VK Motorwerks oil cooler upgrade kit: Similar to the two previous options, but doesn't use a Setrab core.

Now, the problem for me was that I needed something that was compatible with my existing additional AR Design oil cooler which I didn't want to throw out as it did improve the oil temperatures. I was reasonably sure that the ER option would be compatible, as well as the VK Motorwerks one. As far as the STETT was concerned (a company that I had already bought several items from - Cold Air Intake, charge pipe - and that I was very satisfied with), I was doubtful about the thermostat modification: a great idea as such, certainly, but as I'm living in rather cold climates I feared that in winter the oil might not reach its operating temperature of slightly about 100 degrees Celsius. I excluded the VK Motorwerks option, too, as I knew several people that had experience leaks with it, due to the cutting of the oil cooler core that weakened its structure; I had even personally witnessed such an event.

Luckily for me, a friend of mine was getting rid of his 335i and contacted me on whether I wanted to acquire his upgraded oil cooler - which was a VK Motorwerks set, but with a modified and much better Setrab core instead of the leak-prone one that VK Motorwerks installed. I was immediately interested, also knowing that another friend of mine was running this setup with upgraded turbos (E92Fan), and therefor bought it from him for a fair price, along with the necessary oil lines and adapter to hook it up to the stock cooling system.

The installation was, according to my garage Daum Motorsport that installed it, fairly straightforward, in particular as it had already been installed on a similar car and therefor all necessary parts were there. Here are two photos that illustrate how this solution looks (I know that the second photo is not so illustrative but you can at least see that it's a very stealth solution and looks like OEM - but is far, far better):

Comparison between stock oil cooler (left) and new Setrab core (right):


Installation passenger wheel well (behind grille):


Improvements?

1) German Autobahn



A few days after having picked up my car from the garage, I was driving on an unlimited portion of a German Autobahn, one that sees little traffic and is rather straight. I therefor "gave it the beans" (although I don't like beans that much…) and pushed the car to almost 300 km/h before letting off as I ran out of straight road. The oil temperature gauge went just slightly beyond 120 degrees Celsius, and it stayed there. Later on I drove for a few minutes between 230 and 260 km/h, and again the same picture presented itself. In the end, there seemed to be a delta in oil temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius to the setup I had before. Excellent!

2) Nürburgring



I have done three full track days so far with this setup on the Nordschleife of the famous Nürburgring. Although the temperatures were not very high (we had a rather crappy summer here this year), even if pushing the car really hard I never saw temperatures beyond slightly above 120 degrees Celsius. I found this very reassuring, as it was therefor excluded to go into a limp mode or even stress the engine much due to high oil temperatures. There also seemed to be some margin - so if going for bigger turbos (which is an option I'm considering), at least the oil cooling should be sufficient.

Problems?

None at all. Of course, the oil cooler itself is not cheap, and the installation takes a few hours - but the result is very well worth it.

In summary, if you're running your N54 with high boost applications (like GIAC in my case, but cars with JB4 or PROcede or COBB will have similar issues) and drive it very fast for extended periods of time (i.e. tracking it or, when living in Europe, drive on unlimited German motorways), upgrading the oil cooler is definitely a must. In my opinion, a single upgrade will be enough for most; a double one like here - AR Design in parallel with an upgraded stock core - could be a good solution for demanding drivers.
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      10-02-2011, 03:29 PM   #123
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REVIEW: AR Design aluminium radiator

22. REVIEW: AR Design aluminium radiator

Why?

If you've read one or more of my reviews so far, you will probably have realised that I track my car regularly on the Nordschleife of the famous Nürburgring. Now, a 335i isn't really a track car, which is why some efforts are needed to make it at least reliable on a track (from an engine perspective; suspension and other stuff I will let aside here). As a forced induction engine, this means in particular that things need to be done to improve the cooling system of the car. The N54 engine that my 335i is powered with has two cooling systems, one with oil and the other one with water. Both also cool the two turbos that push air into the combustion chambers, which makes it even more critical to maintain reasonable temperatures in both circuits.

The stock oil cooling system of my car, which is in particular inadequate if you increase the power output of the car and/or track it, has already been substantially improved over the past two years, by installing an additional oil cooler from AR Design as well as upgrading the stock oil cooler with a bigger Setrab core. As a consequence, limp modes from too high oil temperatures are excluded.

But what about the water cooling system?

Actually, BMW itself gives you the option of installing an additional water radiator together with the - very mild - BMW Performance tune. That implies that the BMW engineers believe that the stock water cooling circuit needed upgrading in order to cope with a higher power output of the engine which automatically also increases its heat load. Which is certainly true: In the track section of this forum, you can read quite a bit about water temperature induced limp modes (see here: 335i limpmode party at the track), and a friend of mine also experienced one when doing 7 hot laps on the Nordschleife.

How?

As a result of BMW Performance offering the additional water cooler, my first thought was to source the part for this BMW Performance water cooler and install it in my car. However, a friend of mine had already done this and still reported problems (including limp modes) with his car when tracking it. Therefor I decided not to go down this route, also because I was rather unsure whether the additional radiator would actually fit in the driver's side wheel well of my car, with the STETT cold air intake that already took up quite a bit of space down there.

Then I heard that AR Design was developing an all-aluminium radiator with much bigger capacity than the stock (plastic) radiator. As all AR Design products I've installed so far (two sets of downpipes, oil cooler, oil catch can) were well designed and until today functioned flawlessly, I decided to give that a try.

After some waiting for the final product to be released, there it was (see here: Announcing the ar design all aluminium Performance radiator. Here are some of the features:

• Made from aluminum, including extra thick, heavy duty end tanks
• Plug & Play OEM style connectors for radiator hoses
• Fan shroud designed to re-use OEM computer controlled fan
• 100% TIG-welded
• Individually pressure tested
• Re-uses factory mounting point
• Drain petcock
• Two rows of 1" thick tubes for maximum cooling capacity


That sounded very good and seemed to respond to my needs exactly - a replacement for the stock radiator that fit with the OEM connectors and without having to modify the factory mounting point. I ordered it and got it in the mail after a few weeks - well packaged as usual:

Aluminium radiator - packaging:


Aluminium radiator - mostly unpacked:


Here are some photos - from AR Design - of how it looks unpacked:

Aluminium radiator - front:


Aluminium radiator - back:


Aluminium radiator - side view:


It was actually quite big and heavy! But looked also well made, as far as I could judge that without being an expert for aluminium welding.

I therefor made an appointment with my garage (Daum Motorsport) for its installation.

Unfortunately, here the problems began…!

First problem - bad fitment (1)

A day after having dropped off my car, my garage called me and told me that there was no way to fit the radiator as it interfered with the intercooler tubing. Also, due to its greater height compared to the stock radiator it stuck out a bit over the edge of the engine bay. The latter issue could be ignored, but the former prevented any installation of it in its current state:
There was no way that it could be made to fit, safe removing and redesigning all intercooler tubing which I obviously did not want to do as it would have been even more of a hassle. Also, it would seem that then there would not be any wriggle room at all for the intercooler tubing, and it couldn't compensate for engine movements or largening of the tubes in size at full boost.

I've tried to make some photos to illustrate this point, although because of the extremely tight fitting it's a bit difficult to see:

Radiator interfering with intercooler piping:


Of course, this was contrary to what AR Design claimed - stock mounting point, Plug&Play installation. I wrote of course to Andrew @ AR Design pointing out these design flaws, but aside from stating that they could not test "every single intercooler available with our radiator before shipping" (which was not the point at all as the design interfered with the stock intercooler piping, not any aftermarket piece), nothing more came out of this exchange.

The radiator therefor had to be removed again from the car (some more hours and €€€), and my shop had to cut off the radiator outlet tube on the passenger side that was not correctly designed and weld it on again slightly higher and at a steep upwards angle (more €€€). That eliminated the issue with the intercooler tubing that was in the way and which interfered with the above mentioned outlet tube. Then the radiator itself was re-installed again (more €€€).

Second problem - bad fitment (2)

However, upon installing the radiator, it was discovered that there was another, however minor, issue: On the driver's side one of the struts on the backside of the radiator (basically the fan housing that you can see on the photos hereabove) interfered with the charge pipe tubing on that side (again the stock piping, not any aftermarket one).

On the following photo you can get an idea of what I mean:

Radiator - fitment problem (2):


This one also had to be rewelded and moved slightly in order to be able to properly mount the radiator and not interfere with the charge pipe tubing. Again, more €€€ and time spent to correct that issue…in total I believe that the install, uninstall, re-install and rewelding process has cost me around as much money as the radiator itself - 1000 USD.

Here's a photo comparing the stock radiator and the AR Design one - you can see the difference:



And here's how it looks installed, after all the fitment issues had been resolved:

Aluminium radiator - installed:


AR Design confirmed that they had changed the design of the radiator so that - as opposed to my obviously beta unit - the next units would not have these design flaws.

Improvements?

Now, after going through all that hassle, was there at least a significant improvement to be felt?

The first major difference I noticed was that the car took much, much longer to reach its operating temperature (judging from the oil temperature gauge). Where before it took around 5 minutes of driving to get to around 100 degrees Celsius, it now took more than 10, in colder weather even 15 minutes before that happened. So, obviously, the radiator did what it was supposed to do - provide more cooling to the engine.

When on the track, I did some datalogging with the BT tool and the water temperatures stayed significantly lower than before. Unfortunately, due to an IT incident these datalogs were lost, otherwise I would be able to provide you with more and more precise data than this.

As the installation was done in September 2010, the tracking season was almost over, so that I didn't have more than one opportunity to actually drive the car with the upgraded radiator on the track. But during that one session I could indeed notice a significant improvement in terms of water temperatures - so it seemed all was as it was supposed to be.

Or not?

Second problem - leakage

During the winter (beginning of 2011) I suddenly noticed the dash warning telling me that the coolant level was low. As I had never received such a warning before, I left my car at my garage (who had done the install of the radiator) and let them check it out. After removing the undertray they immediately saw that a significant amount of (blue colored) coolant had leaked out of the aluminium radiator. It looked like there were at least two leakage points at the back of the radiator, within the mesh. Due to the constrains in terms of space in the engine bay it was however difficult to make out details.

Here are some photos where you can see a few blue drops on various parts of the engine:

Coolant (blue) leaking out (1):


Coolant (blue) leaking out (2):


My garage removed the radiator and confirmed the two leaks, at the back of the radiator within the mesh that you can see behind the fan housing. Due to the leakage points (within the mesh) it was not possible to repair the radiator, such as by welding (the mesh cannot be welded). I therefor asked the garage to remove the radiator and install the stock radiator again.

Vendor's reaction?

Of course I contacted AR Design about this (in May 2011). Having dealt with them before on several occasions with different products, I've always had a very good feedback time and response from Andrew and his team (except the aforementioned fitment issues).

Unfortunately, not this time.

First, they ignored my messages for about two weeks. Several reminders didn't change that - only after I posted my experience here on the forum I finally got an answer (end of May 2011), and an offer to replace the faulty radiator.

That would not have compensated me for all the installation €€€ I had to spend again for removing and re-installing it a first time, and then a second time when the replacement arrived. However, I agreed to this.

Which is where we stand now - several months (and reminders) later, no reaction from AR Design and no replacement or compensation.

Summary

To my regret I therefor have to state that I cannot recommend this radiator to anyone - I have yet to see proof that the design issues have really been remedied, and it seems that there were (maybe still are) problems in the quality control of the manufacturing process.

Also, this experience has left me very doubtful about the attitude of AR Design to its customers and, in relation to the present issue, was greatly disappointing to me.

I will post updates here on whether - or not - any replacement or compensation will ever arrive. Of course I also invite AR Design to explain (maybe even apologise, who knows) this antithesis of customer-minded attitude.

Follow-up

As a consequence of the present post, a refund has been made which covers most of the initial price of the radiator that I paid.
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      10-02-2011, 06:29 PM   #124
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      10-22-2011, 01:04 PM   #125
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2009 335i  [4.39]
REVIEW - Rixster (vent integrated) Boost Gauge (version 2 with CANbus)

23. REVIEW - Rixster (vent integrated) Boost Gauge (version 2 with CANbus)

Why?

I believe that anyone who is modifying his car considerably - as many here are doing -, a tool to watch some of the most important parameters of the engine is a must-have. I have owned the Bavarian Technic tool for quite some time, and is has been very helpful to diagnose and datalog. However, it's always a hassle to connect it to the OBD port, take out the laptop, connect it to the laptop etc. - and you can't really watch the data while you're driving, so either you have a passenger doing that or you save it for later analysis.

What I really wanted was a tool that let me watch some of the parameters in real time while driving. Of course I knew that there were boost gauges already on the market, but most of them either looked too much out of style with the interior of my car, and also simply being able to watch the boost didn't really appeal to me.

However, at the end of 2010 I saw that P3Cars was in the process of developing an upgrade to their existing boost gauge, which included CANbus integration and therefor the possibility to display a considerable number of parameters such as intake air temperature, water coolant temperature or throttle plate. I really liked the seamless integration of this gauge into the OEM driver side vent, which along with the orange colour of the digital readout looked very much stock (see also here: P3 Cars - Vent Gauge v2). I didn't want my car look too much like a boyracer car, and therefor the OEM looks that this particular gauge had appealed to me quite a lot. An additional feature that I liked was that the gauge had two additional analogue inputs (besides one that is already used for the boost sensor), which I intend to use at a later point for measuring the flow of my methanol kit.

It then took some time until the development of the gauge was finalised, and a few months later it was possible to subscribe for the first batch of it for 399 USD, IIRC. That's certainly not cheap, but the looks and multitude of features distinguished it from anything else in the market, so I went for it.

How?

I received it some time after ordering it, and it came well packaged and with everything needed for the install. I had opted for the version that was already integrated into an OEM vent, so that the installation was mostly plug & play. The only difficulty was to find some space for the module itself, as behind the covers of the footwell there were already quite a few cables from my methanol kit and Bilstein B16 Ride Control suspension. It worked out quite well, however, and my garage said that they had no trouble at all installing it.

Here are a few photos:

Boost gauge installed (1):


Boost gauge installed (2) - OBD port:


Display option - Intake Air Temperature:


Display option - Rounds Per Minute:


Improvements?

In my opinion this gadget looks really great. If you didn't know it, you could easily believe that the car had this display when coming out of the factory. The possibility to use metric measurements but displaying the boost in psi is eminently practical; and it's simply fun watching the boost go up as you floor it.

Also, this enabled me to watch the efficiency of my methanol kit in real time - you could see the air intake temperatures decreasing each time the methanol started being sprayed. Very useful! Also, the feature to display and delete codes is very helpful as well, even though for properly diagnosing and datalogging an additional tool such as the BT tool is indispensable.

The vent itself still works, of course, although it's not possible any more to direct the air stream - but which is not really a problem.

The OBD port can still be used as well - for this the cable of the gauge that is plugged into it simply needs to be unplugged. That was important for me as I would not be able to use the BT tool or the GIAC mapswitcher without this feature. A more permanent install option for those for who this isn't necessary can also be bought, so I am told.

Here's another link with an overview over all features of it: Overview - features of P3 Cars - Vent Gauge v2.

Problems?

None of any importance, really. It has performed flawlessly since I installed it, and has made it possible for me to keep an eye on some of the most important engine parameters while driving.

As I use the GIAC mapswitcher from time to time, as well as the BT tool, some fumbling is always necessary to get the gauge unplugged, but that is really a very minor gripe.

All in all I'm very happy with this product and can recommend it without any reservation.

Alpina_B3_Lux
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      10-23-2011, 04:23 PM   #126
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For those interested in more details about how to drive a car around the famous Green Hell in Germany:

Just posted a rather lengthy report with loads of pictures and some details about the track itself on my last two-day session of driving training at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. If anyone wants to have a look:
PHOTOSHOOT - Nürburgring training - 9/2011 - 335i E90 LCI + Ferrari, SLS, McLaren...

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      11-26-2011, 10:56 AM   #127
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+10

this thread was defintaley one of the most informative reviews i have ever read on here good job. I have actually started taking notes!! i have a brand new set of pss10's going on my car this week and im kind off nervous now, but i will have to post my thoughts. i am getting the pss10's, quaife lsd, and the front and rear sways this week. should i do the rear bushings? while the Subframe is dropped??
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      11-27-2011, 05:49 AM   #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VA757bmw View Post
this thread was defintaley one of the most informative reviews i have ever read on here good job. I have actually started taking notes!! i have a brand new set of pss10's going on my car this week and im kind off nervous now, but i will have to post my thoughts. i am getting the pss10's, quaife lsd, and the front and rear sways this week. should i do the rear bushings? while the Subframe is dropped??
Thank you for your comments, very much appreciated!

As to your question: Yes, I would definitely recommend to do the bushings at the same time. It's a very good modification, and if you do it at the same time as the Quaife plus rear sway bar (just as I did), it will save you lots of redundant work; and the additional cost (i.e. parts themselves) is not that high. Are you doing it at Birds as well?

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      11-28-2011, 07:15 AM   #129
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Haha i wish i have heard the best things about birds in the uk. Im stateside though. Once again excellent review! Im contemplating.oil.coolers.now
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      11-28-2011, 08:56 AM   #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VA757bmw View Post
this thread was defintaley one of the most informative reviews i have ever read on here good job. I have actually started taking notes!! i have a brand new set of pss10's going on my car this week and im kind off nervous now, but i will have to post my thoughts. i am getting the pss10's, quaife lsd, and the front and rear sways this week. should i do the rear bushings? while the Subframe is dropped??
yes do the rear subframe - it is the best time to do that.
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      11-28-2011, 11:58 AM   #131
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VA757bmw View Post
Haha i wish i have heard the best things about birds in the uk. Im stateside though. Once again excellent review! Im contemplating oil coolers.now
Have a look at Evolution Raceworks, I think they've got an excellent Black Fridays deal for their oil coolers if you can still get the same conditions.

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      11-28-2011, 06:10 PM   #132
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Great stuff, love all the detail and jealous of the track you have access too
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