February 21, 2013

E36 323i suspension rebuild

Do not do this at home, trained professionals at work! Joking aside, a quick lesson for potential DIYers: think long and hard before tackling suspension work. We just completed a full suspension rebuild on a well worn, 182k mile E36 323i at the shop. This included all new dampers and springs, front control arms, tie-rod ends, and most importantly a complete set of bushings at all suspension points. It’s this last part that is tricky for shade tree mechanics.

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June 08, 2011

E46 M3 GT Part 4

I think I may have fallen off the GT wagon with the latest modification to my E46 M3. The last time we spoke, I installed a TC Kline Racing suspension. Next up, the exhaust.

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Brake Rotor Friction Ring Replacement

To say that brakes are an important part of a car's performance is to state the obvious. Pads and rotors need to be checked often and replaced when worn or damaged. Most cars come with single piece rotors-- the friction surface that contacts the pads and the inner "hat" that bolts to the hub are formed from a single casting. Higher end brake systems, and many after market big brake kits, use two piece rotors.

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June 07, 2011

The Little Things

Having worked on hundreds of cars over the past 5 years or so a few things have become abundantly clear: no two jobs are ever the same, even if the parts being installed are, instructions from the component manufacturer-- if they exist at all-- are almost never complete, and finally, exhausts never ever fit without a good amount of "tweaking". A quick example of tweaking is presented after the jump...

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May 07, 2011

Thrust Sheets to the Wind

One of our good customers complained of "pinging" noises coming from his front suspension-- a TC Kline Racing double adjustable coil-over set-up we installed last fall. The pinging noise is due to the springs binding as they compress. Our first, quick, remedy was to grease up the coil perches so that the springs could freely twist during compression.

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March 30, 2011

NASA Tech Inspections

Many of our customers have progressed to the point that simple car club track days will no longer scratch the driving itch. For them competetive amatuer racing is the next logical step, and one of the best-- and easiest to get involved with-- sanctioning bodies is the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). Following our customer's lead we are proud to announce that VRPerformance is now an authorized "HPDE and Time Trial inspections and Competition annual inspections/log book issuance" provider. Follow the jump to see the official press release from NASA.

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July 08, 2009


There is nothing like taking home a brand new car. No dust on the dashboard, no grass clippings on the floor mats, haze free windows, and that fresh, new car smell. Since I'm not in the market for a new car, the next best thing is to have someone thoroughly "detail" your car. Sure you can spend the weekend doing it yourself-- which I have done many, many times before-- but sometimes the amatuer simply doesn't have acces to the tools and materials required (or skills to use them) to do it perfectly. That's when you hire a professional company, such as AutoLavish.

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March 02, 2009

Lightweight Battery

One of the ways to improve the performance of your car is to reduce weight-- we've talked about this many times. The stock battery is usually a whopper, often weighing in at over 60 lbs. We now carry a line of lightweight batteries that offer similar cranking power to the stock units, at less than half the weight.

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November 18, 2008

Cracking up: E46 Sub-frame issues Part 1

There is no doubt that the BMW E46 3 Series line up of cars is great. They are right sized, relatively efficient to operate and have superb all around performance. But there are critical weaknesses in the chassis-- especially in the M3 version-- that need to be addressed. We already reported on the fatigue issues with the front strut tower in an earlier blog entry. This time we will focus on the rear subframe.

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August 26, 2008

STi Big Turbo Install

Squeezing more power out of a turbocharged 2.5 liter flat four cylinder engine is as easy as swapping out the original turbo for a bigger one, right? If only it was that simple.

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June 20, 2008

Front Strut Tower Fatigue on BMWs

This is a note for all of you who run heavier springs on your E36/E46 BMW. We have had a rash of M3s come into the shop with cracked FRONT strut towers lately.

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The Care and Feeding of Your Coil-overs

Height adjustable suspensions have become quite popular of late-- even to folks who do not track their cars. Often referred to by the blanket term "coil-overs", height adjustable suspensions allow the owner to set and change the ride height of the vehicle for any of a number of reasons: to corner balance for the track, winter/summer ride height changes or just to fine tune the "look". But as high tech as some of these kits are, they do need yearly maintenance.

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March 08, 2008

E30 M3 Rebuild: Suspension

The second phase of our E30 M3 winter project is to tackle the suspension (see E30 M3 Rebuild: Brakes for phase one). We began by first inspecting the suspension on the ground as well as checking to see how the car behaved dynamically on the road. We decided, along with the car's owner, to go ahead and replace the dampers at all four corners, upgrade the sway bar size to help flatten the cornering characteristics as well ad eliminate some of the understeer, and replace some of the worn out suspension bushings. We tried to replace every stock part with a more performance oriented equivalent since the car will primarily be a track tool and not a boulevard cruiser. That means the around town ride quality may suffer a little, but with the payback coming on the track.

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February 20, 2008

Vive La Differential!

One of the most complex systems to visualize in a car is the drivetrain—specifically how the power from the engine provides forward motion to the car. A train of gears and shafts somehow converts the linear motion of pistons going up and down to rotational motion (torque) that turns the wheels to move the car. And in sporting cars a differential proportions the aforementioned torque between the two drive wheels.

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January 28, 2008

E30 M3 Rebuild: Brakes

A BMW E30 M3 has taken up residence in our shop this winter—in out of the cold Midwest winter for a deliberate going over. The car has been tracked extensively and things have begun to wear out. We have been tasked to do a thorough technical inspection, replace, rebuild or repair what’s bad and give recommendations where the aftermarket has made improvements over the original equipment hardware. In other words, make it just I bit better than new.

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January 23, 2008

The Powerslide

Watch any British car show and you'll see plenty of powerslides-- artful footage of an exotic car speeding tail out around a dank English test track. Unless you’re on a dusty rally stage, sliding around a corner is not the best way to get a good time. But who cares, it looks cool. Follow the jump and learn from 5th Gear's Tiff Needell how to do it right.

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October 13, 2007

Getting Lined Up: Alignment Basics

We went into quite some detail about camber and caster in a previous installment of Tech Talk, but many people still ask us basic questions about a car's alignment in general. So in this installment we will try and tackle all of the basics of a standard four wheel alignment, what the various terms mean, and what "set-up" is best for what application.

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September 29, 2007

End of Summer VRPerformance Open Track Day at Grattan

I think it is safe to say that everybody had a great time at our last for the season VRPerformance Open Track Day at Grattan Raceway. The unpredictable Michigan weather cooperated with warm temperatures and hazy sunshine. We did not have a professional photographer at the event this time, so you'll have to make due with this author's snapshot skills after the jump.

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August 29, 2007


We're constantly preaching balance to our customers when it comes to installing performing upgrades on their cars. It is our philosophy that a car has three basic objective measures and one subject measure when it comes to performance: positive acceleration, negative acceleration (also known as deceleration or braking), and lateral acceleration (turning, or the ability to change directions). The fourth measure combines the three objective yardsticks into a subjective rating that's all about balance and feel-- how the three acceleration measures combine into a whole experience.

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July 24, 2007

VRPerformance Open Track Day at Grattan Raceway

What a great way to spend a day— at the race track in the company of great cars and like minded people. Better still, you’re driving those cars at their limit on the track without a care for police or drivers on cell phones or little children suddenly running out in front of you. And with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s, the day was darn near perfect.

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July 12, 2007

Getting into Balance: Corner Balance Basics

In the world of automotive performance, the term “corner balance” is one that is often used but seldom understood. It is a further derivative of weight distribution and refers to the amount of weight or force that each individual wheel exerts on the road. By “corner balancing”, one shifts the weight carried by each wheel towards the optimal value for that car.

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May 30, 2007

The Best Sounding M3 in Michigan

Love it or hate, the E46 M3 BMW comes with a very distinctive mechanical sound straight from the factory. The so-called “rasp” actually comes from the engine and not the exhaust as so many people think. Nonetheless there are all sorts of exhaust “rasp eliminators” on the market today with a few actually doing a pretty good job of muffling the distinctive S54 engine note. But none of them add to the performance of the car.

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May 09, 2007

Braking News

We all know brakes are a very critical system on your car, but few of us have a strong understanding of what a braking system consists of and how it works. We’re going to go through the basic components of these systems and give you a better understanding how they all work together.

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March 14, 2007

Spring Primer

There are several types of springs that have been used in suspensions over the years. The three basic types most often used are leaf springs, torsion springs and coil springs. These different springs have been around for years and years. Leaf springs are still popular on trucks and vehicles that haul heavy loads because they are very stiff. The downside of leaf springs is that they are very heavy and take up a lot of space. Torsion springs are less common, but have been used in the rear suspensions of Porsches and are still used in the front of pick-up trucks. The way a torsion spring (which is usually steel) works is by resistance to a twisting motion. Torsion basically means to twist and a torsion spring is the twisting of a long bar. Coil springs are adaptations of a torsion spring differing by being wrapped around many times in a coil or helical shape. The principal of how it operates or resists rotation is the same. A coil spring, which can be seen in picture after the jump, illustrates how they look.

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December 07, 2006

Forging Wheels

We at VRPerformance are in business to sell only the finest aftermarket performance equipment for sporting cars (okay, sorry for the little plug here at the usually non-partisan, non-commercial blog part of the website, but can you blame us?). Our quality driven philosophy means that we search out not only equipment that looks good, but also equipment that is engineered with performance and durability in mind. The process by which the equipment is made is often as important as the design, and when it comes to wheels, forging is the only way to go.

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December 05, 2006

Engineering Emotion

The love that enthusiasts have for their automobiles is hard to explain to people not equally inclined; it is just a cold machine after all. And maybe love is too strong of a word anyway, since most enthusiasts that I know do not actually love their car like an aging baby boomer loves a 1969 Camaro as it sits in a row of equally loved old relics at the local Denny's on cruise night. That is nostalgic ardor and schmaltzy sentimentality.

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September 20, 2006

Camber and Caster Explained

The terminology used for vehicle dynamics is lengthy and detailed. You can run across a term as simple as a one sentence definition easily committed to memory or it can be a long drawn out equation that you wish you had never crossed paths with. For today’s discussion the terms will be rather simple and will allow you to better understand what is going on in your car.

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