Last we met; I had racked up 7500 of my own miles on the 2007 BMW Z4 M coupe and burned $4500 of hard earned money. Fresh service, fresh tires and a new alignment. The car was ready for smooth sailing and a summer in the canyons.

Hard parked at a work TGIF & car show

In June I hit ~64K miles and readied the car for Inspection 1 and a small refresh. For those unfamiliar, BMW maintenance alternates between extensive Inspection I and Inspection II intervals at 15 and 30K mileage marks. Inspection 1 also covers the meticulous valve timing adjustment. Granted permission to do whatever they felt necessary, I rather hesitantly answered the shop’s call – “Car looks great, runs like a champ with no major issues.” Ownership of a 9 year old car means excellent shape still includes replacement of the spark plugs, belts and pulleys and a “that’ll be $1330” price tag. Thanks BMW. Oh and a small note that the motor mounts are beginning to sag, common issue on the e46/e85/e86 platform.

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Driving home the engine purred like new and the car readily ate swaths of traffic-free pavement, almost masking the uneasiness in my stomach Discouraged my fiancée reiterated “You knew what you were getting into. It’s still under budget, right?” Indeed the car was but I felt irresponsible writing $500 and $1000 checks every 6-8 weeks for the car. Resolute to see things through I decided a sprint in the California hills would improve my outlook.

Bavarian Trio?

Holy hell was I right. The early morning air and desolate back roads provided a playground for the car to come to life, the NA inline-six wailing off the canyon walls. Pushing deeper into each corner I grabbed 3rd gear and watched the tachometer rise as my buddies disappeared in the rear-view mirror. Precisely what the doctor ordered and not a moment too soon.

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My OCD never takes a day off. Slight plowing through less-demanding turns and darting across highway ruts left me to think the alignment, sway bars or other suspension components were suspect. Wanting to save a few bucks, I took advantage of a coworker’s hospitality - err lift and knowledge. Underneath the car all the linkages, bushings and coilovers looked to be in good standing. As I poked and prodded the spring perch (shaft collars) easily rotated on the coilover body - ruh roh. Turns out the shaft collar (perch) itself was stripped rendering the set screw useless.

Offending bits

With the car back on the ground a quick alignment and tire pressure check showed excessive front toe-in and aggressively high tire pressure. DOH. Tire pressure quickly fixed, I chalked the drifting alignment up to these few mistakes. We also took on the task of fitting a new OEM rubber molding for the front windshield - revealing a badly dilapidated existing trim piece and a slightly clocked windshield. Unfortunately this meant the new trim was loose in certain areas and overly snug in others, resulting in a small crack in the windshield when too much force was applied to seat the trim in place. Chalk that up to $36.

Under the knife in good company

It’s OK - any dream of concours d’elegance were long over for this car and I drove home happy on a much softer suspension. After speaking with KW I sourced new set screws and spring perches to the tune of $80 only to leave them on the kitchen counter for the next month.

Car Week in Monterey approached faster than expected and I hustled to prep the car for Oktoberfest and another track outing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. My usual indy shop took care of the band-aid fixed suspension, alignment, fluid swap and track inspection ($710) while I set aside time to tackle the sagging motor and transmission mounts.

Getting access to the motor mounts is fairly easy with a lift and engine picker. After about 90 minutes we started the transmission mounts where access to bolts on the passenger side is obstructed by heat shielding and the mid-section of the exhaust. Some fussing around with the heat shield and everything fell onto the floor and the new mounts were in. Checked the clock - still before noon, not bad! In my haste buttoning things up I stripped a hard to reach bolt, necessitating dropping of the entire exhaust and an extra 2 hours. Parts total - $435.

Mission accomplished

I chose Rogue Engineering mounts which have a decent track record among enthusiasts and stiffen things up slightly over stock. The NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) is amped up for sure, but is really only noticeable at idle and the click-click shifting more than makes up for it.

Anddddd come mid-August I fractured my index finger playing men’s league ice hockey, sentencing myself to 4 weeks of Prius penitentiary. My fiancee and I still made it out to Laguna Seca for BMW CCA Oktoberfest to experience bimmer mania and assist in a friend’s SCCA races. It was an excellent day given the constraints and don’t worry, the fiancee’s 228i Msport was our transport – couldn’t be seen in a Prius there.

SCCA Group A lineup
Corkscrew shenanigans
Turn 3 and 4
My friends track monster

That just about wraps up year one of ownership, 10,000 miles and $7,100. I will admit I tend to be more aggressive on preventative maintenance and purchased this car knowing it was due for Inspection 1 and a refresh. Hoping the next year brings more seat time and less costly wrenching.