I have a friend who recently sold his Porsche 911 Turbo and picked a 1998 BMW M3 as a temporary car while he searches for the right car to replace the 911 turbo. He ended up liking the M3 so much he decided to buy another one that was in better condition and had lower miles. After searching he found a clean 1997 M3 in Milwaukee and decided to have a pre purchase inspection done. There were a couple of issues that were found while the list wasn’t too long some items needed to be dealt with before the drive back home to Minneapolis. The other issues found during the PPI were common BMW maintenance items and overlapped with some upgrades that were planned before he had even picked the car up.

While you don’t need to replace all of the suspension components for a track day BMWs commonly need a suspension refreshed every 60k miles or so. While we’re in there we thought some upgrades were in order so we found a spring/shock combo that would have a great ride quality on and off the track in all seasons. He ordered a full bushing refresh kit also for the car.

We found a day to bust out the jack stands and dig into the M3 starting by taking what seemed like everything off the car. I began to tear apart the front end while the car owner and our friend dug into the rear of the car. While it seemed we had ever part one could order for a M3 it didn’t take long until we found a part that we needed. We used our problem solving skills and began to find an OEM BMW part on a sunday that no part store would have. A small plate that goes between spring and the strut bearing top. I know a lot of BMW enthusiast locally and began sending out some feelers to see if anyone had what we needed. It took a couple of hours, but we were able to find what we needed that looked better than new frankly. After some down time I was back at it.

My friends working on the back half of the car were doing as well as they could, but if you have ever done the ball joints of a BMW it’s not fun. While having the overpriced specific tool in this case would be better, you can actually use some more readily available ball joint tool and some oversized sockets to get the job done. While even the cleanest 20 year old car will most likely have at least one bolt that won’t turn this BMW was no exception to the rule. The last ball joint wasn’t going to happen that day, but the good news was the car would be dropped off for an alignment later. They would be able to take care of the last bolt as it was one of the rear alignment adjusters bolts anyways. All in all the project took longer than it should have, but we got a lot done even though we ran into issues with a rusty bolt.

The car received some much need maintenance and some solid improvements to make even the most mundane drive more enjoyable. Next on the list will be a brake refresh including fluid and some pads to handle track duties, but more on that later.