In this episode of 'Project Builds' presented by Mömus, we take a look at all the steps necessary to prepare your BMW for the winter months. From a humble wash, to a full paint sealant, window sealant in the style of RAIN-X, headlight bulbs, wipers, engine oil, fan / serpentine belt & tensioner and even the thermostat!
Like i've said many times before, the head unit was about the best update we made to this car. Maybe I'm a media junky, but having any music / video I want on the go transformed the driving experience of our e39.
But there are a few things that bother me about the install, and the issues are all down to myself. At the time, I did not consider the back-up camera that came with the unit to be any use, other that being a bit of a gadget. However, the screen blacks out any time the reverse gear is selected, and the music / video is paused. A bit of nuisance to say the least. Especially because it draws my eyes to the head unit, and there is nothing there. It feels unfinished.
And so, I decided it had to go in. The wiring was a bit of a headache to figure out, especially since I did not want to cut or slice the BMW's wiring harness. Eventually I gave up, and wired it into to the reverse lights, as per the cameras manual. I tried a few other solutions, but the thing just draws to much current. At the front, it luckily is a plug and play solution straight in to the head unit.
With everything apart, I figured it would be the best time to install another gadget that I had ordered earlier. An I-bus USB key to finally regain control of the board computer functions. I-bus is the system that runs all entertainment in this generation of BMW's, such as the radio / navigation, phone, PDC, etc, and this little USB key would be wired into that, with the USB end slotting into the Android unit.
With an App especially developed for this USB key, the board computer functions would be available again. However, after wiring it in (tapping into the I-BUS wires on the head unit), the car started to develop all kinds of faults. First remote for the central locking stopped working, then the instrument cluster went down: indicator lights no longer worked, and neither did the blinker sound, nor did the blue light for the brights. Shortly after, the reverse lights were flickering.
Clearly, the Light Control Module was upset. And for good reason, the app also lets you fiddle with some setting of the car. I was really exited about this, as most settings were exactly what I was missing in the e39, such as a comfort blinker (auto 3x), coming home and leaving home, and locking the door when driving off. The LCM must have registered the foreign influences and shut down. Only after unhooking the battery, and de-activating the app, things went back to normal.
I contacted the company I bought the app from, to hear what went wrong. I then got a response that it must be because of my car being an "early touring" (1997 sedan), that the problem was known, and they don't really care. Nice.
In the end, I'm glad I installed the camera, it is a nice feature and adds a little safety. But I couldn't recommend the I-bus key with this app. It doesn't work.
We made this tasty little video of the install process:
This week, the Cynical Car Guy takes a look at various ways to inspect if the second hand car you want to buy was well cared for. Did the previous owner take the time to properly service and maintain the car? Find out now!
In this new episode of Mömus - Cynical Car Guy, we delve into the subject of buying and owning a used car versus leasing and driving a brand new car. What are the downsides? What are the upsides?
In this episode, we review the changes, upgrades and modifications made to our BMW E39! We take a look at the body work and m-sport bumpers, the facelift xenon lights with quad projector mod, the BMW style 238 wheels, the 30mm lowering springs, the headliner and trim, and off course the Android navigation head unit radio system!
The last little wood piece remaining in the centre console since the last update got whipped out to make place for an Android based head unit! It may seem just a small change to the car but is has got me excited as a little kid. There is just something about having that screen there.
Wether it's the fact that it still has this "exclusive option" appeal to it (especially in this 90s cabin), dresses up the interior, or just plain gives me something to do whilst sitting in traffic or waiting around for something: it all makes me very happy.
The install was easy enough once I figured out the wiring. Luckily all the cables and adapters were properly labeled. The head-unit came with a back-up camera, but I chose not to install due to the seemingly shoddy quality. The head unit itself though, looks and feels really rather nice.
The backlit buttons match wonderfully to the orange hue of the standard BMW ones, the design looks right, and even the knobs sound like the ones on the original unit. It looks right at home:
But instead of the tape deck monstrosity that was there before, I've now got Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, DVD, and all the other modern goodies you can think of. I can't stop playing with it.
We made a tasty little video for you to enjoy the install:
High time to update the interior of our E39! Being pretty pleased with how the exterior came out, the interior of the car looks a little standard in comparison. Since I can remember, I could never leave anything alone. From “re-shaped” toy cars (read: bashed up) to completely overhauled bicycles to cars. I have never left anything standard that I had in possession.
Every car I see or enter, my mind already starts: This could be lower, wider, or this could be painted that colour, let's see if this grille would fit… And so, the aubergine cabin of our Mömusmobil was the next victim. From the get go I was never a big fan of the wood. Even though the wood pieces don’t look like the usual plasticky nonsense found in most cars, I still thought it could be improved upon.
With those out of the way, my attention shifted to the headliner. I actually like light headliners, as they improve the spacious feeling of a cabin, but having a silver-grey headliner in an otherwise purple and black interior does not tick any boxes. I shortly thought of color matching it to the aubergine leather seats, before coming to my senses and deciding on black. I feel like it would blend in more, with the top of the dash and door cards being black too.
For the dying process, I used spray cans for textile dying. It’s a slow process that needs many layers to build up to a even, black finish. But it’s a fairly simple job, that leaves the factory, soft finish of the headliner intact.
Next up were the now removed wood pieces that were sanded, primered, and then painted in a gloss black base coat with spray cans. To bring out the maximum possible shine and deepness to the paint, the compressor was used for several layers of clear coat.
During the time that the trim pieces were drying, I attacked some of the trim found in the headlining of the car. I wanted these to match with the now piano black trim, and so they given the same treatment.
After all all the painting and dying was done, everything was re-installed. The headliner can be a bit of a pain to get in and out of the car. But with some flexing of the headliner itself and laying the front seats all the way down, it will go through one of the rear doors. Just about.
I love it, two relatively small changes in the cabin, just the wood and the headliner + pillars, and the interior is just like I want it to be:
Here is a video we made of all this process:
Next time, we are taking care of that little would pieces that remains in the centre console!
It's finally time to start on the interior of our beast! But before we commence with any of the mods, a thorough cleaning is in order. Now, the previous (and first) owner of our e39, specced the car particularly well, with electrically adjustable, heated Aubergine leather sport seats, sport steering wheel, sunroof, and rear sun-blind. It is truly a joy to be inside the cabin.
However, as with many cars that are acquired second hand, the interior is covered in a thick layer of years and years of use. Especially the steering wheel is a real eyesore, and looks very greasy, grimy and slimy. It also appears to have some harsh skin oils induced damage.
In my experience, the most (cost) effective way of cleaning leather surfaces like these are with a magic sponge, a very dense, soft foam sponge that only requires lukewarm water. No soap is needed, unless actual oil has to been cleaned of the surface. Softly wipe it (not rub) over the leather, and dry it off with a microfibre towel. The transformation is unreal!
Especially the colored stitching is popping again.
Gone is the shiny, nasty grime. The leather once again has factory like, matte finish and looks and feels soft to the touch. Of course, the damages have not been repaired using this method. But they are way less visible, having removed the dirt that was filling the low spots, and the greasiness on top of the high spots.
The rest of the leather interior parts were also cleaned with the sponge, to match the now clean steering wheel. The seats were then gently cleaned, again using only lukewarm water, and soft bristle brush. This way the cleaning was not to abrasive on the top coat of the leather, since the last time these seats received any care or protection was unknown to me.
Here the front of the seat has already been cleaned, and reveals a more matte surface. Even the color pops more. After all the of leather surfaces were cleaned, a natural care product was applied.
Now in my opinion, vacuuming the carpet and the over mats is one of the biggest transformation to the cars interior. Especially with Harvey, our cocker spaniel, leaving white hairs all over the place.
We made a little video introducing the interior and thoroughly cleaning it:
We are currently working on refinishing a whole lot of trim, and taking headliner and pillars out.
After a lot of work the exterior of our beast is finished! The m-sport style bumpers have been repainted, and a whole lot of body trim was refinished to match the general facelifting that has been happening.
Starting with the mirrors, these were masked off together with the window trim to receive a fresh coat of gloss black. In my opinion, the e39 has aged rather beautifully. But the mirrors didn't. They look big and clunky. Gloss black should make them disappear and blend in with the side windows nicely.
The window trim was already matte black, as part of the sports package, from the factory. However, a fresh coat of gloss black will give them a nice update and will make the car look and feel more modern and upmarket.
Sticking with the gloss black as our new design theme for the car - gloss black on aspen silver - the rear diffuser and exhaust tips were attacked next. The exhaust tips themselves are actually adapters for toilet piping. However they fit really rather nicely and DIY is life. I love little mods and adaptations like this.
The facelift style tail lights were chosen, as explained previously, so that no modifications to the body were necessary, yet still updating the look. However, I wasn't very pleased with the way they look: a bit plasticky. Looking for a solution, I decided to go with a black tint. First of all, it would match the rest of mods nicely, and on top of that hide some of the plastickiness that was going on inside the tail light housing.
The side markers were matched to suit. Then on to the big job. The bumpers needed to be painted. Unlike the experiment on the doors, these needed to be done properly. So without thinking "They're replaceable anyway", I got to work. We're talking compressor and spray gun here. The rear bumper of Chinese make was unfortunately not primed, so it was thrown in with the batch of side and bumper moldings to receive various coats of primer.
"Side and bumper moldings?", I hear you ask. Why yes, this car is getting facelifted and how! Color coding these will make the car look a lot younger. After the primer, a couple coats of base went on.
To seal them off and achieve factory levels of shine, three coats of clear were blasted on top of the base.
And after a curing time of 2 days, they were finally reinstalled back on to the car.
Along with all the trims.
Quite the transformation:
We made a video of how we went about tackling all this work:
Currently we are working on taking the interior apart to go through a bit of a facelift too:
Having always been a stance enthusiast, the wheel gap on our E39 has annoyed me from the start. Even though the car was equipped with the factory sports package, which offers a modest 20 millimetre lowering, the wheel gap is so immense it seems like the car is riding around on a lift kit (had a look, none was found).
In my original vision for this car, the replacement rims were a multi-piece set with a nice staggered lip. Somehow this fits incredibly well on the E39. However, refining the end results more and more in my head, the wheels were to be of a more modern design, in an anthracite or gloss black finish. This decision came along to tie in with the rest of the mods that were installed to give the car a bit of a facelift.
A set of original BMW Style 238`s in 19 inch were found. The wheels came with the winter tyres still mounted, in a for an E39 rather oversized 245/45/19. This was great as the nights over here still reach and exceed freezing temperatures. The gearbox has not yet thrown any faults, and apart from the occasional rubbing in tight turns, they are actually not that bad.
However, I'd like to save my fenders for once, so come the warmer weather they will be replaced for some 245/35/19's in summer attire.
On to the suspension. Through time my preference for cars that sit so low, the belly scrapes during normal driving, has changed a little. In this case, a set of lowering springs will suffice just nicely. The chosen springs were designed for the E39 with the sports package, and are supposed to lower the car another 30mm, for a total of 50 milimeter compared to a standard, non-sport 5 series.
Unfortunately for us DIYer's, the E39 has multilink suspension with Mcpherson struts, so the spring replacement has a little more to it than average. Especially in the rear, where half the interior has to be dismounted, the job presents a bit of a struggle. However to me, once everything was back together, the results were certainly worth it.
We made a little video capturing the work we put in to this part of the build:
And so it finally time to attack those bumpers and a few other bits with some paint!