Monday, August 28, 2017

Leather Wipes

These are Original BMW parts.  They are nice to keep in the car in the event of a spill on leather.  We keep one pack in each car in our family.

BMW leather wipes, QTY 10, PN 83192286941, $5.00r

Engine Performance Software

Like many BMW diesel owners, part of the appeal of the diesel engine to us was the mod-ability.  The engine responds really well to new, aftermarket software.  And, the risk, while BMW will tell you is quite high, seems low to me.  The piggyback chips are very hard, if not impossible for them to track down.  They are totally reverseable.  And, the US-spec 3.0 motor has many of the same internals as the higher output rest of world 6-cylinder diesels.  We waited for 20K miles before adding ours, after the car was trouble-free up to that point.  As always, feel free to do it your way.

Either way, we went with a Racechip Ultimate.  New performance is stated at 322 hp and 508 ft-lbs of torque.  The gains are obvious, immediate, and performance feels like a 5.0i gas engine.  You install the Racechip into a circuit on the fuel rail by unhooking only one connection, at the front of the engine.  Only takes a few minutes to install.  I mounted ours on the forward part of the driver's fender as shown.  I used industrial velcro and also tie wraps as backup.

Racechip Ultimate for F15 N57 35d,  $599.00r
Total investment in vehicle to date = $5401.28

Engine Air Filter Service

BMW wants to change the engine air filter every 30,000 miles.  They will change the CABIN interior air filters every 20,000 miles.  Seems to me that they have their priorities backwards.  On the other hand, a new engine air filter, PN 13718518111 retails for $68.75.  A new set of cabin air filters, PN 64119248294 (in bound air) and 64319194098 (recirc air) retails for $118.79, and $31.83, respectively.  So they went with the more expensive option. 

On our car, I pulled the filter and it was quite dirty with very small particles.  Based on this, and on how easy it is to change, I plan to change it every 15,000 miles from here on out.  The air filer on the US 3.0 D motor is under the engine cover at the rear of the engine near the oil dipstick.  To remove it, you un-clamp 2 metal spring clamps, and you are out.

In my research, and based on how the OE filter is marked, a Mahle filter part number LX 2796/1 would be a good replacement for the OE one, probably for less cost.

Engine Air Filter, OEM BMW 13718518111, $68.75r
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4802.28

Engine Air filter is located here.  Release the silver metal clamp shown, and the one on the opposite side to remove and replace the filter.

20K on the left, new on the right.

20K filter.  Basically black with soot and dirt.


20K filter on the left, new on the right.  Doesn't look too dirty in this pic.

Hardwired Escort Radar Detector

I hardwired an Escort 9500ix radar detector into the car.  I had initially planned on a complete stealth system but cannot afford the time to install on right now.  So this will have to do in the mean time.

For power, I tapped into fuse #42 in the forward passenger footwell fuse box (there is more than one fuse box in the F15!).  42 is nice because it's for the UGDO transmitter and PDC and it's switched power.  I used an adapter I bought from Amazon.  For ground, I tapped into the all-brown wire on the passenger side footwell light harness, right by the fusebox.  Lastly, I have found it's nice to have a remote mute button to silence the detector.  So I used one from Escort.  I was able to fish the remote wires below the steering column through the Lycra-like material and mount the mute button under the steering wheel.  I took care to make sure there was enough wire slack in all possible steering wheel positions.  Lastly, I covered the LEDs on the mute button assembly with black electrical tape.  No need for more stray light in the cabin.

I ran the wires up and down the A-pillars.  The trim is easy to remove.  The door seals are easy to pry back a little and there is even a small channel behind them to contain the wires.  It's laborious, took me about 90 minutes, but it's nice to have it all integrated and also have a remote mute button.

Escort 9500ix Radar/Laser Detector, $329.99 from Amazon
Radar Mount add-a-blade fuse, $8.99 from Amazon
Escort Sticky Cup Radar Mount, $30.37 from Amazon
Escort Smartcord, $22.99 from Amazon

Monday, June 5, 2017

Trailer Hitch

The trailer hitch options for the car range from inexpensive (the route I took) to very expensive.  It's a shame the car didn't come with factory trailer hitch standard, let alone options, as I think most of us have trailering needs at least occasionally.  Personally, we have very limited applications.  If I trailered a lot, I might consider Invisihitch options.

At any rate, this is the route I took.  I bought a Draw Tite hitch and a 4-prong harness from  This hitch fits the stock 2016 car perfectly and requires no cutting of the bumper.  The 4-prong harness will get the job done, but unlike Invisihitch/OEM kits, it does not disable the rear park distance control and offer other cool camera options.  You have to disable PDC manually.

The install was straightforward but tedious.  The video instructions from eTrailer are very good, but there are a LOT of plastic clips on the F15.  I took some pictures of the rear bumper cover removed so maybe you can get a better idea of where they are.  You need to take your time with this mod in order to not scratch or mar the car.

I have owned a Draw Tite hitch before.  And, while they come nicely powder coated or painted, they do tend to rust after many years.  To add some protection for this one, I roughed the surface with 0000 steel wool and added a coat of semi gloss Rustoleum paint to this one.  Hopefully that will help some.  I found the best price for the hitch on Amazon that particular day.  Amazon shipped the hitch basically unboxed with a shipping label on it.  It arrived seriously scratched.  I complained and asked for a replacement, the replacement came in a box and was properly wrapped.

For the wiring, I ran my wires out of the car on the right/passenger side, by modifying an unused grommet and sealing it with black RTV silicone.  This way the trailer harness is available by the hitch, and we don't have to do the "close the harness while it is sticking out of the tailgate" thing.  It's a little more factory-like.  I did have to cut the eTrailer harness to do this, but my solder and heat shrink connections are all inside the vehicle and not out in the elements.  The F15 uses modulated signals for brake and tail lights, so you only connect 1 trailer harness wire to the car for both and the eTrailer wire harness module can figure out if the signal is for tail lights or brake lights.

Draw Tite 75600 Hitch Class III 2" receiver, $171.58r
eTrailer 119190KIT 4-prong wire harness from, $75.95r

Total cost of this mod = $247.53
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4733.53

Black RTV inside and outside of this grommet

I mounted the trailer light controller on the right/passenger side.  It fit nicely into an unused spot.  But, this required extending the wiring to the left/driver's side tail light.

Clips around inner tail light

Center clips

No trimming required.

I didn't use the replacement rivets provided by Draw Tite.  Their heads were much smaller than stock.  I did try to use the original BMW ones (bought new) but my rivet gun could not accomodate metric (I assume) size.  I ended up using some Z3 rivets I had in stock.
These are what BMW uses to hold the wheel arch trim in place.  But, my US-sized pop rivet gun couldn't run them.

Mud Flaps

Installed Original BMW mud flaps, front and rear.  The fronts are tricky if you have running boards (Option 328) like we do.  You basically have to cut the stock mat to fit the running board.  Sort of a pain.  BMW does include a template help you create the cut so it's not a huge deal.  Since accessory installation instructions can be hard to find and/or not supplied with the parts, I am uploading a copy here.  Blogger won't let me host PDF copies, so you will have to page through them one by one, sorry!

I didn't remove any of the wheels to install any of the flaps.  For the fronts, you can turn the steering wheel for access.  For the rears, I had the rear of the car on jackstands to install a trailer hitch, and there was enough room.

Front Mud Flaps, set, BMW 82162302402, $100.00r
Rear Mud Flaps, set, BMW 82162302408, $100.00r

Total Cost of this mod = $200.00r
Total Investment in Vehicle to Date = $4486.00

Here is a shot of the rear flaps installed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Driver's Window Replacement

My wife was driving the car home from work the other day on the local interstate, and an object from what she thinks was the oncoming side of traffic hit her driver's side window.  It shattered the glass.  Only the tint held the glass in place.  Luckily the window was up and luckily the glass didn't shatter inwards onto her.

South Carolina insurance covers all vehicle windows with zero deductible and even covers OEM glass.  So, the glass was replaced with a new piece of OEM BMW.  The local company who did the work was called Clear View Glass, and the service guy (owner?) who did the work was named Jason.  He was a total professional.  He was able to carefully remove the glass almost in one piece, once the door panel was removed from the inside.

Later the same day, my wife had the aftermarket window tint replaced with new.  Theoretically, maybe I could have tried to get insurance to pay for the tint, and they probably would have, but I didn't try.  We had a bad experience with the original tint person we used, so we would never go back there (or recommend him for any work, ever).  So instead, Jason from Clear View suggested the best tint shop in town, Palmetto Tint Shop.  Palmetto doesn't carry the Llumar film we had on the car.  Instead, they sell Huper Optik.  The color match was right on the money and they installed it onto the new window without issue or drama.  Supposedly the Huper Optik is more durable than Llumar and it rejects heat better.  They had a heat lamp demonstration in the showroom and it was obviously better at insulating from heat.  If you go to Palmetto, ask for Brian and tell him X5nut sent you!

Total cost of this mod = $100
Total investment in vehicle to date = $4286.00