Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Burger Motorsports N54 Oil Catch Can Review

Those who know and appreciate the N54 platform also know it suffers from a significant oil blow through problem. Oil leaks passed the turbos and into intake system of the car, coating the inter cooler, charge pipe and ultimately the intake valves. This leads to heavy carbon deposits forming on the intake valves, reducing performance and leading to rough idle. Physical maintenance must be done every 100,000 km or less in the form of medium blasting the valves. To reduce the oil clogging in the system, the valve cleaning service interval, and to a lesser extent, improving the octane level a catch can should be installed. After researching the products available on the market and realizing many were generic catch cans that were simply retrofitted to work on the 335 I settled on the Burger Motorsports (BMS) OCC as it was designed from the ground up for the n54/n55 engines.

An example of fouled 335 N54 intake values at ~ 98,000 km


The installation itself is relatively straightforward however you will need a few things to make the process smoother.

A heat gun will make it much easier to heat the ends of the rubber hoses to get them on the PCV valve nipples (see red circle around end of hose that needs to be heated with heat gun). From personal experience it is practically impossible to get them on without one or even with a hairdryer. Also if the hoses still do not fit even with a heat gun, email Terry at BMS as you might have an improper fitting hose. I had a hose that wasn't fitting properly and Terry shipped me one for free; BMS customer service is stellar.

Pictures Installed

The catch can sits under the cowl for a super stealth look.


It is hard to say to say exactly what percentage of the oil in the intake system the OCC is catching however it does seem to be collecting oil from the system. Below is a picture of the amount of oil that was removed from the catch can after 4,000 km of driving. Its easy to see that after 40,000 km a significant amount of oil would be prevented from entering the system. Do I expect it to be a 100% solution to the problem, absolutely not, but it is definitely doing its job and reducing the fouling that occurs.
More than a mod this is almost something that should have come on the vehicle from the factory, and is something that every enthusiast should have on their car. It in no way compromises the performance of the car, in fact helping its longevity and reducing the performance degradation.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Runflat delete and Bridgestone RE760 Review

I've been complaining about the factory runflats on the 335i since the day I drove it off the lot; although I bought the car second hand the dealership put a brand new set of Bridgestone Potenza runflat tires (the same the car shipped with). I found the ride very harsh and jarring mostly because the tires have no give whatsoever and the factory xi suspension is relatively soft, meaning the suspension gets overly activated, making for a 'jolty' ride. On the other hand a rock solid sidewall allows for immediate steering input that can really be appreciated on the track or a flat piece of highway.

Finally this summer I had enough, I ordered a set of Bridgestone RE 760's after comparing them to the Continental Extreme DW 94Y XL and Michelin Pilot Super Sport 94Y I came to the conclusion that the Continental's sidewall was far too soft both from physically inspecting floor models and that the Michelin were far too expensive for any performance gain over the 760s. Please find the link that I used to do some of my primary research.


I had only two concerns moving away from runflats 1) no spare tire or room for a spare tire kit 2) reduced sidewall rigidity and hence worse turn in and responsiveness. Realistically you just need to get comfortable with the fact that neither of these issues will be fully addressed, but there are significant gains to be made in other areas.


Ride Quality

After having put 2,000km on the clock with the RE 760s I have to say I am nothing short of impressed. They have totally improved the character of the car for the better and are a great investment, a large part of that comes from the better ride and that isn't unique to the Bridgestone's. The ride is noticeably more balanced and not overly busy; hitting a small pothole no longer rattles every panel in the car (I can't help but think switching to conventional tires would prolong the life of the suspension and bushings).


Traction both in dry and wet conditions is incredible, it has now become impossible to break the rear end free even with ESP and DSC both fully off, compared to the runflats that could be broken free with traction control off in both dry and wet conditions. The tires are a perfect match for the car as they are not ultra-sticky tires that over power the factory suspension setup which could be very problematic and destroy the natural feel of the car. The car hooks up much better off the line with no tire squeal and puts down power much better on even surfaces without the feeling that the rear end is hopping or skipping over uneven surfaces during flat-out acceleration.

Rotational Mass

I am not going to lie - I thought switching from runflats to conventional tires the drop in rotating mass would be significant enough to be noticeable, the reality is I couldn't feel a difference even if I wanted to. The truth is the difference per tire on the 225's is approximately 3lbs. Now I am sure the performance overall of the car has been impacted to some extent by a 8lbs reduction in rotating mass but I haven't been able to notice any difference.


If you are looking for your first major upgrade to your E90 or need to replace your worn runflats I wouldn't even think twice about getting RE 760s or conventional tires more generally. They will completely change the performance, ride and comfort of the car - the best money you could spend on your car.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cars & Coffee Toronto - August 2014

The Cars & Coffee in August was a fantastic event there was a great turnout and is always great to see familiar faces and cars. There was a great turnout of mid-level performance cars which is the segment I always find the most interesting given the blend of accessibility, performance and modifications available. I cannot emphasize how great these events are; there is a c63 507 that has been a staple at the event and I have gained a significant appreciation for the car and its capability and the fact that it could make a great, albeit expensive, build car given the fact it can take SLS engine components.

This meet provided a great opportunity to see an e90 m3 that caught my eye last year at Bimmer Cruise 2013. A stunning le mans blue coupe that has received very tasteful, purposeful and focused upgrades. Personally I love that the owner kept it naturally aspirated - maintaining the character of the car. I think its the harder path compared to just dropping in a supercharger and making 500+ whp. I hope I have an opportunity to see the car in action on the track with the new mods. Seeing the work he did on suspension, brakes and exhaust really gave me some inspiration for what the next steps on my car will be (more to come on that ....). Enjoy the pictures from the event!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cars & Coffee Toronto - July 2014

Cars & Coffee is a great opportunity to get out on a Sunday morning in Toronto and meet other car enthusiast and see some very cool cars. I just posted some of the highlights from the July meet. Engineered Automotive always hosts a great event with tons of space and always a few special shop cars. Be sure to leave your envy at home because the turn out is absolutely ridiculous! My favourite thing from these meets is the diversity in the cars that turn up, domestic, import, classic, tuners and everything in between. This is a car event not to be missed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Arc Angel H8 Bulb Review

Changing a day time running bulb isn't really a big deal in an E90, get a new bulb or pair and pop open the access port and your back in business. I thought it would be a great opportunity to experiment a little; I already knew the dealership would be expensive, and at $90 for a pair I was not disappointed. I then promptly checked my favorite online retailer and was ready to pull the trigger on a set of OEM H8 daytime running bulbs when I remembered I had seen some very inexpensive "upgrade" bulbs. I spotted them on Burger Motorsports and at $30 for a pair with free shipping I figured what could I lose. They additionally promised a longer life and more importantly a whiter light, something that I always hated about the stock bulbs. You have a beautiful set of stock HIDs and these yellow as a mo******** running lights, it never made any sense to me. Now I played with the idea of going LED but never thought it was worth the effort.

The bulbs did teak a while to get to me but given the shipping cost I'm not going to complain; they arrived in perfect condition with attractive packaging.

Installing the bulbs was exactly the same as installing any other H8 bulb and takes about 30 minutes on your first time especially given the small opening to get the bulb in and out from. 

The end result is fantastic, absolutely as promised by Arc Angel - the halo's are noticeably whiter. If you are expecting blue white light as you would get from LEDs you will be disappointed, but if you are like me looking for something to clean up the color inconsistency and sharpen up the lighting color these bulbs are perfect. I have had mine installed since April 2014 with no problems to report of as of the date of this post (I will update as necessary). 

Given my current lack of access to a high quality DSLR I am going to use the comparison pictures from the manufacturer's website. My experience is very consistent with the comparison pictures posted below from BMS. 

For $30 USD (with free shipping) I have absolutely no hesitation recommending these bulbs to every E90 owner who is looking for an easy DIY appearance improvement or to anyone that just needs replacement bulbs.  

Stock vs. Arc Angel

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Royal Purple Synchromax Review

It was time to service my manual transmission, shifts were notchy and crunchy and at times I had trouble putting it into first gear and reverse. I wanted to put new fluid in as soon as possible that would replace the degraded fluid and would help clean out the system before I put expensive BMW fluid in. After doing some research on forums and reading I settled on synchromax from Royal Purple. I wrote an email to customer service at Royal Purple confirming that it would be appropriate for an E90 335 manual (and it was). I bought two new plugs, drain and fill for the fluid service and off I went. After getting it done the change in the feel was night and day, as of today I have had it in the car for just over 2,000 km and the smoothness is fantastic. It has made the car feel so much better. I am planning to put the BMW fluid in the vehicle in a month or so after the synchromax has had its chance to work it way into the gearbox and clean out the 98,000 km of grime in there, since the fluid had clearly never been changed before.

Changing out the manual fluid in your E90 or in any car is something I cannot stress enough. Not only for the reason of preventative maintenance and extending the life of your transmission but for the every day feel of your gearbox. Based on how cheap this service is ($20 CAD per bottle of synchromax, you need two quarts) I am definitely adding this on the list of annual spring service no matter how many miles I put on the car; the smooth buttery shifts are worth it to me.

Monday, February 17, 2014


To all wheel drive or to rear wheel drive? This is an age old question asked by enthusiasts, especially in cold climates. I do not hope to solve this debate but rather share my perspective on why I chose x-drive on my daily driver. The first major consideration I made was the weather we have here in Southern Ontario, with about 4 months of snow and ice it is not uncommon to get 10-15cm of snowfall in a single afternoon. We also have a fantastic spring and summer where it is often very warm and absolutely perfect driving weather. My other major constraint was that I only had space for one car, in an ideal world I would have run a rear wheel drive sports car for the summer and have a "winter beater" for the rest of the year, however that is not currently an option. I think there are benefits and limitations of each platform that a potential buyer needs to appreciate and ultimately that aside from the scenario where you live in northern Siberia there might not be a right answer.

Pros (compared to the i version of the same vehicle):

  • Greater forward traction in inclement weather and on sub-optimal surfaces
  • 10 mm higher ride height ( a positive in deep snow and for clearing uneven surfaces)
  • Faster 0-60 times typically 0.1-0.2 seconds faster to 60 km/hr
  • Able to put power down slightly sooner when exiting turns

Cons (compared to the i version of the same vehicle):

  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Heavier curb weight (~ 200lbs of difference)
  • Higher drive-train power loss ie. the amount of power that is lost from the crankshaft of the engine to what is put down on the road
  • More wear items that need to be maintained and serviced and could potentially break down ie. 1) transfer case 2) differential for the front axle 3) drive shaft connecting both sides of the transfer case
  • Harder to access certain items under car due to more components ie. bleeding the clutch is impaired due to the placement of the additional drive shaft
  • Reduced number of available mods ie. certain exhausts will not fit an xi along with down pipes (in my opinion of 90% of available parts and modifications that work on an i work on the xi)
  • Inferior suspension dynamics and options ie. sport and m-sport suspensions are not available on the xi even though the m-sport package was ordered in its entirety from factory. 
  • Reduced ability to "get the back end out" and over-steer

Ultimately it would seem that you are trading a lot to have better traction for 12 months of the year and that would be entirely correct. In my opinion all of the 'cons' aside from the suspension characteristics are completely livable and do not pose such a monumental difference when driving two similarly equipped cars back-to-back. The x-drive still allows the driver to have considerable fun and rotate the car when desired, which can be easily achieved by simply disabling dynamic stability control (DSC). The desire to have a car that would provide me with year round go anywhere capability, whilst having the most fun in every season, led me to choose the xi. All I can say is that in the past 2 years of ownership I've had to dig multiple cars out of snow and ice, never once was it my car, but for those that live in California, forget an xi option even exists. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

E90 328i + Bolt On's & Tune - Excellent Daily Driver

This great video put together by the guys at Mod Bargains shows what can be done to a 328 with the N52 inline six. I get a lot of people asking me what a good performance car is for someone new to the German import scene and the E90 328 is almost always what I recommend. I think enthusiasts sometimes skip straight to the 335 without even considering its non-turbo brother. The naturally aspirated inline six provides a satisfying power band, and it is without question a dynamic and engaging car to drive. Without the added complexity of a turbo setup it is also more reliable and is slightly lighter as well. I think it makes the perfect car for someone that needs something that will be reliable as possible. The chip from Burger Motorsports and the BMW performance exhaust really wake up this car without destroying its character. I haven't had the opportunity to hear a BMW performance exhaust on a 328 but it sounds absolutely stunning in this video.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

BMW Performance Power Kit Tested

I admittedly was very excited when BMW released the power kit for the E90, a significant power boost while being fully factory backed, is never a bad thing. However I was curious to see how much power the actual package puts down. Well Steve Dinan did an in depth dyno of an E90 with a N55 power pack and the results are quite impressive and in typical fashion were underrated by BMW, which I have always admired them for doing. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Emergency Tire Repair

After going through a terrible freeze-thaw cycle the roads in Toronto were more dangerous than a 1980's Afghan minefield being completely and utterly littered with potholes. Now hopefully this does not give you the impression that Toronto's streets are normally smooth and a joy to drive on but this instance was truly an exception. Needless to say I accidentally ventured into one of these cavernous pits of doom resulting in a rather flat tire. Here are some takeaways from my adventure.

1) Fix-A-Flat (Spare in a can?) - A can of fix flat could be a good quick fix if you don't live in Canada and its not -20 Celsius outside. Given the fact that the can is most likely to be in the trunk - don't count on it working if its cold outside. In fact the can was so cold that fluid and gas were not even coming out, only after an evening of being inside my house was it working properly. Also consider if you have a burst sidewall or

2) Run-flats Don't Equal Immunity - Don't think you are immune from flat tire woes if you are running run flats. Yes with ultra rigid sidewalls I may have not had a sidewall burst but where would all of that energy gone? Most likely I could have ended up with significant damage to the suspension components.

3) BMW Road Side Assistance. I was fortunate enough to get my flat close to a public parking lot where I parked my car and came back later with a proper jack, tools and a fresh tire. But had it been somewhere more remote the annual price of this service, which surprising not a lot of owners know that BMW offers is pretty cheap at the price.

4) Must Have Tools - If you are an urbanite and lucky enough to be able to pull into a parking lot or somewhere you can leave your car safely for a couple of hours feel free to cut the middleman (tow truck and the like) out of the equation by having a very basic set of tools at home.
  • Jack
  • Breaker bar
  • Jack pad adapter
  • Appropriate socket for your make of car
  • OPTIONAL but a huge help especially if you are doing the job solo - a wheel hanging tool

Monday, January 13, 2014

E46 M3 CSL

What I would consider to be one of the best street cars designed by BMW, the amount of engineering and technology in this car is absolutely astounding. What makes it one of my all time favorites is the emphasis on weight reduction, bare bones interior, and impressive high revving NA engine- truly a track car for the road. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Key Websites

Knowing the right places to get reliable information, order quality parts and interact with other like minded individuals is a key part of developing more knowledge and developing your passion and vehicle further. I have put together a short list of websites I have personally used and had excellent experiences with. Note that I am not being compensated by any of these sites monetarily or otherwise.

ECS Tuning ( – A fantastic site to purchase parts for most German vehicles. They have an excellent selection of parts, upgrades and most importantly tools. As any good German car tech knows, sometimes finding the tools to perform service work can be quite the task. The website is extremely well laid out and guides a user through what and will not work for a particular make of vehicle, making it very difficult to order the wrong item for your car. I have placed countless order never to find any mistake or error and have generally found their pricing to be quite reasonable.

Turner Motorsports ( – A BMW only retailer of replacement and upgrade components. Turner is also quite famous for running successful BMW racing teams. I would generally say that pricing is quite similar to ECS however I find that the ECS website is better structured and more intuitive to navigate. That being said there is something to say for a BMW dedicated retailer; they have a deep selection of products and I have found them to have never made a mistake on any of my orders. Definitely worth investigating.

Burger Motor Sports ( – A primarily BMW upgrade and modification manufacturer and retailer. They offer in-house designed tuning chips and custom components for E90, E82 and F30 platform vehicles. What I absolutely love about BMS is that you can tell whoever is designing the products owns and loves these cars, as they develop products that solve knits that these cars have rather than just making the standard array of intakes, exhausts and body kits. BMS offers unique products that address issues with these cars such as oil catch cans, cowl filters and thermostat bypasses. I must absolutely comment on their excellent customer service, Terry Burger answered my emails when I had a fitment issue worked through it with me and at no charge shipped me a replacement hose that was causing the fit issue.

E90 Post ( – What is there to say, a great forum and resource for E90 owners to learn and troubleshoot their cars. This is probably the best place to start when it comes to learning about your car and modifying it. There are similar forums for every body series BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche etc.

Monday, January 6, 2014


I believe in transparency, when it comes to journalism or reviews I have always found that I connect the best with individuals that have a position and stick with it. I found that automotive journalists who are up front about who they are and what they like and what they don’t, what their biases are and what they drive are those that I am most drawn to and follow on a consistent basis. I often find myself enjoying a whole wide variety of content be it from the universally renowned Top Gear, the excellent Chris Harris, the very down to earth Matt Farah and the absolutely brilliant and ingenious guys at Mighty Car Mods. They are all very different but very consistent in their approach and that helps me understand their perspective and I appreciate them for what they are and represent.

I am a finance professional that has always had a thing for tinkering and mechanics. I got into cars at a very young age and took mechanics and design classes throughout high school. Throughout my formative years I travelled to various countries and experience different cities along with remote and often very inhospitable areas. I find myself very much a “driving purist”; I enjoy a car that offers a strong connection to the road with minimal interference. Whilst I often find myself thinking of what it would be like to commute in a Caterham or an Atom I am gripped by the reality of living in a city and not on a stretch of private road. I value practicality in cars and am of the belief that it is better to have a car that delivers a very good driving experience and be able to drive it all year round rather than one that is absolutely sublime but only gets pulled out of the garage 3 times a year.


The face of the auto industry has been ever evolving since its beginning but one thing remains constant, enthusiasts, those that have a deep passion for everything cars. Enthusiasts have driven change and are the lifeblood of the auto industry, calling on manufacturers to push the envelop or sometimes to revert to ways of old. This website is dedicated to enthusiast and the constant pursuit of exceptional motoring.