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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Tracking, Autocrossing, Dragstrip, Driving Techniques > Track & Auto-Cross Wear/Tear



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      04-25-2007, 12:16 AM   #1
deltron
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Track & Auto-Cross Wear/Tear

Hi All,

So I had my first auto-cross event this past weekend and it was awesome. Being to test the potential of the car was amazing. The driving theory was very interesting, and having hands on experience controlling your car at high speed was not only great fun, but probably better drivers ed that anything the DMV will give you.

My 325xi is my daily driver. I purchased it and plan on keeping it for several years (5-6+). Eventually, I'd like to get another new car, but something like Z-car in the future. So with that in mind, will auto-crossing it 5-6 times a year plus a couple of days at the track (think Lime Rock in CT, VIR in VA) prevent me from reasonably doing this?

I'm really curious about this. Damaging your car from an accident is one thing, but damaging it from the stress you put it through is another, and I'm not sure if these cars are really built for owners to track and auto-cross yearly. I know for day-to-day driving, and occasion (hard) evasive driving, our cars are as solidly built and rigid as they come.

Thanks,
John
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      04-25-2007, 12:32 PM   #2
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Good question, and I'm also interested in hearing other's thoughts as I'm of the same mind set you are.

Since the E90 hasn't been out very long, there's probably no answer specific to our car, so this question my be better fielded in an E46 forum, etc....

I've done five autocrosses and one track day in mine so far, and the only obvious wear/tear issue I have is the outside edge of my front tires is now slick. The rest of the tread is about 4/32nds, and I'm at 15,000 miles now.

My personal inclination is that a day of autocrossing (6 runs with the Peachtree BMWCCA) is easier on my car than a typical hard commute day with 1 hour 30 minutes of stop and go traffic each way. Well, autocrossing is easier on the car, brakes, powertrain, but not the tires, that is.

Having done one track day at Road Atlanta, I'm a little uneasy as to what effect this has on the car. We ran a total of 8 sessions, about 20 minutes each over two days, so the car spent a lot more time in action than all of my autocrosses combined. I think the wear/tear on consumable items is pretty harsh - tires and brakes. But they are consumable and easily replaced, I just worry a little about the expense. I'm a little worried about clutch wear. I didn't do much shifting, but I did have to do some, and I'm still learning to heel/toe and a few of my downshifts were ugly. The car spent a fair amount of time at full throttle, but I figure it should be made to do this since they've got the Autobahn. Also, since my car is the 325i, my engine should be less stressed since it's not putting out as much horsepower as the 330i.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Overall, I know it has to be a little rough on the car, but I change the oil more frequently than the computer recommends. I also plan to perform the other maintenance items more frequently - especially the ones BMW says you never need to do! Worried or not, I'm completely addicted to the track days, so I guess I'll find out.
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      04-25-2007, 03:10 PM   #3
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Besides the obvious wear and tears (i.e. tires, break pads, etc.) some things m3 owners have to do is change their stock rotors after 10...12 events. But it all depends on how you drive and if you let your brakes cool down properly. A lot of owners dont think much about their brakes / rotors and end up warping them after just a few events so watch out for that.
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      04-28-2007, 03:51 AM   #4
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LOWER CONTROl ARM BUSHINGS!!!
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      04-28-2007, 06:44 PM   #5
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I tracked my stock e46 328i for quite a while. It was also my daily driver. These cars are meant to take the pounding. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Like you said you will go through consumables, tires, brakes, etc. But the more experience you have and the smoother you are the less you will even effecting those things. After my first two sessions the outsides of my tires were almost bald, but as I gained experience this didn't happen any more because I learned to actually brake BEFORE a turn so you can get faster out of it. I know it sounds so simple but when you want to go fast its hard to brake. Anyway, the things I went through faster than I would have if I just drove it on the street were - tires, brakes, rooters, brake fluid and just before I got rid of it my mechanic was pushing me to change the suspension (160000 miles). At that point I had gotten to the point where I was thinking of getting a more aggressive suspension anyway but before I had a chance the car was totaled in an accident on the street going to work. Never had any clutch problems at all. Also to eliviate going through tires I just bought a second set of driving school tires so I didn't go through my regular tires as fast.
Oh and I also found out that people with modified e36 and e36 m3's really didn't like it when the 4 door stock e46 was passing them!
Driving schools are just a BLAST!!!! Can't wait to get my 335i on the track!
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      04-28-2007, 08:35 PM   #6
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bartman,

I'm picking up a second set of rims/tires as well for my daily driving. The set I have now I'll probably auto-cross with one more time before I swap them out for summer performance tires.

During my first auto-cross I had a tough time braking hard (sounds stupid) going through sharp 180 turns, because I felt like I had to be going fast all the time. If I slowed down enough, I'd probably have saved my tires from the beating they took. I'm going to work on that in the next event I go to.

Did your E46 come with the 4yr,50k free maintenance/warranty? I imagine I will go through my brake pads and rotors faster than drivers who don't race would. You think the dealer will replace them with no questions asked?

I figure the new E9x 3-series are tougher than any other 3-series they've ever built. The E36 and E46 both had sub-frame problems when the stress was too great. They fixed that in the E9x, which to me implies the cars are more rigid and can take more stress than those cars ever could. Not sure if this is a rationalization on my part or valid argument.
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Last edited by deltron; 04-29-2007 at 12:51 AM.
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      04-29-2007, 08:46 AM   #7
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I've autocrossed and tracked my last 2 e46's, and have run my e90 thru 2 full seasons already, starting my 3rd season now.

Last year, I let somebody co-drive my car for the entire series (9 events). These cars can handle it.

As Shim pointed out, you will stress a normal replacement items in the control arms. For BMWs, this is a normal wear and tear item that is covered under your warranty. Also, brakes are as well, although I would highly recommend replacing the brake pads and fluid, if you plan on doing track events. You will get brake fade after a half dozen laps if you don't replace the fluid (at a minimum). I use ATE (don't use the blue, as it stains the plastic reservoir).

Also, if you plan on doing more than a few autocrosses, do yourself a favor and get some sticky, non-runflats. If you're looking for a decent tire that is chep to run, go with the Falken Azenis ST615s which are only 130 each. They do heat up at track events, but don't ever really get squirrelly. For autox, they are a top 3 choice, for non-r compounds.

Speaking of R compounds, they are a lot stickier than other tires, and you will be stressing the car more by using them. If you are new to DEs or autocross, I would highly recommend NOT using them to start. Learn to drive your car on street tires first. You'll learn so much more about car handling.

Lastly, one of the best mods you can do to your car is to treat yourself to a school of two. A lot of the local chapters hold test & tune days or schools. Please, please attend them. They are the single best way to shave time and learn how to drive better.
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      04-29-2007, 06:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lni View Post
I've autocrossed and tracked my last 2 e46's, and have run my e90 thru 2 full seasons already, starting my 3rd season now.

Last year, I let somebody co-drive my car for the entire series (9 events). These cars can handle it.

As Shim pointed out, you will stress a normal replacement items in the control arms. For BMWs, this is a normal wear and tear item that is covered under your warranty. Also, brakes are as well, although I would highly recommend replacing the brake pads and fluid, if you plan on doing track events. You will get brake fade after a half dozen laps if you don't replace the fluid (at a minimum). I use ATE (don't use the blue, as it stains the plastic reservoir).

Also, if you plan on doing more than a few autocrosses, do yourself a favor and get some sticky, non-runflats. If you're looking for a decent tire that is chep to run, go with the Falken Azenis ST615s which are only 130 each. They do heat up at track events, but don't ever really get squirrelly. For autox, they are a top 3 choice, for non-r compounds.

Speaking of R compounds, they are a lot stickier than other tires, and you will be stressing the car more by using them. If you are new to DEs or autocross, I would highly recommend NOT using them to start. Learn to drive your car on street tires first. You'll learn so much more about car handling.

Lastly, one of the best mods you can do to your car is to treat yourself to a school of two. A lot of the local chapters hold test & tune days or schools. Please, please attend them. They are the single best way to shave time and learn how to drive better.
Couldn't agree more! My e46 was a '99 so it was before they were doing all the extra warranty. At the time I was also afraid of taking my car in there. This time they are going to be doing some double time on the brakes.
I should have mentioned the brake fluid. VERY important! Even to this day I do have a seperate set of rims/tires, but I don't use R compound because A) I'm already going fast enough and B) I'm too lazy to change them at the track. I usually change rim/tires a week or so before the event than get the car signed off mechanically than go to the track. I also don't have to take them off right away when I get home. If I don't get to it till the following weekend no big deal. But it helps to keep the wear down on the daily tires.
Hope that helps!
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