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Andrew Fanning

E46 Vert - My Build Thread

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Hi All, 

I have spent the last week since picking up my e46 reading through as many posts, tips and diy's and have to say say a big well done to all on here seems like a friendly helpful group of people.

So I have always been a VW guy having had a fully built MK2 16v, Mk1 Sportline Cabrio, couple of Corrodos, Passat estate, Mk5 Sportline,  porsche 944 lux and most recently mk4 Gti 180bhp.

There has been a few Jap bits such as mx5, rx8's wrx and a few different generations of Celica's along the way as well as a w123 merc.


I only owned the Mk4 Gti for about 3 months but never really took to it so when offered a swap for an E46 Vert ( always been on the wish list ) I jumped at the chance.

The car in question is a 318 m sport, come with power fold mirrors, memory seats, Harman Kardon stereo I know its only a four banger but high running costs here in Ireland anything over 2.0 is out of the question. The 318 is circa 700 euro a year for road tax and just over 800 for 3rd party insurance. 325i are currently in the region of 1300 for tax alone.

The car seems to have been well looked after and aside from a few scratches is very clean, it even came with un used first aid kit, tool kit, owners manual and glove-box torch.

In the week since getting the car I have:

  • refitted the centre box 
  • fitted 15mm spacers on rear ( may space front also but still undecided ) 
  • up graded so of the bulbs and the interior lights
  • Painted grills matt black 
  • Painted front bumper grill


  • replace front number plate plint - Done 
  • fit new standard number plates - Done
  • full clay bar and paint correction - done a quick clay and hand polish and wax waiting for spring and a new DA to give full job 
  • full interior valet and leather treatment 
  • paint front plus rear bumper ( not bad just fussy )
  • new gear knob, shift boot 
  • fitted mats - Done 
  • order cup holder 
  • repair wear on drivers seat bolster 
  • find some stlying cues to break up the amount of silver
  • turn off turn signal drl ( cant stand the orange glow )

Now I know everyone is saying it needs a height adjustment but due to being a daily and the s**t quality roads in my area she will be staying as is.


I do have a few questions I haven't found answers for so any help would be great.

  • Interior heater is blowing and gets warm but I feel it should be blowing stronger ?
  • driver window rattles from somewhere at the top with roof up and down?
  • Given the car has 153,000 miles I am considering a terra clean but have never done this before and concerned I could be opening a whole other can of worms. I did add some stp fuel injector cleaner to the last tank and it has made a difference to fuel economy and pick up 










Edited by Andrew Fanning
Change of title and few updates

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nice car! your fan power could be the final stage resistor so give that a google and compare symptoms. it’s not that hard a job just fiddly.

only way to diagnose the window rattle is to whip the door cards off and see if anything is loose. make sure you can re-seal the vapour barrier if you remove it or you’ll get condensation and water issues.

good luck with it, the “to do” list only ever seems to get longer on mine!

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thanks @incredirog will look into the final stage resistor and see about getting the door card off at the weekend, weather and work really getting in the way of even getting around to the smallest of jobs, this definitely not the best time of year to be starting a new project.

I did manage to get half an hour sun leaving work yesterday so chance to get the roof down and a few more pic's ( sorry bout the quality guys really must get my self a decent point and shoot camera. rather than this s**tty phone )









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Did Throttle pedal reset last night, have to say I was skeptical but it really made a difference on the drive to work this morning, if you haven't tried it do  takes 2 mins.

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Few little updates 

Got some standard number plates and a new number plate holder for the front bumper, I know a lot of people remove these but I think it just leaves an unfinished look to the front.

Nice to have standard font plates but not happy with the quality so will have to look for something better but will do for the test 






Next up was the rear lip spoiler again not to everyones taste but Ive loved the look of these since msport's started appearing on the roads. Ordered on ebay ready painted and have to say match is way better than i ever expected and once warmed up a little went on easy.




Also had some lint tint film left over from my mk4 so decided id try tinting top half of rear lights, really like the smoked look but have odered some new film as was rush job and not 100% happy with finish.


Also got some new tailor fit carpet mats to replace the horrible generic rubber one that came with the car but did get a pic before ( or after fitting )

****Next up 

Now ive made a few changes to the car feels more like mine so time to start tiding up some bits im not happy with before any other mods.

1. polish front lights and research some bulbs as with current short evenings lights are useless, much more interested in seeing were I am going than how the lights look turned on...anybody got suggestions??

2. get her aligned and prob fit some 12 or 15mm spacers on the front 

3.  book test and pay road tax 

4. paint front and rear bumpers 

5. replace gear-knob and boot and handbrake boot 

6. order kit or find someone to repair driver bolster wear 


****** Wish List 

1. citroen stubby aerial 

2. have my eye on kbs splitter kit ( not sure on front may just get sides and rear and find something else for front )

3. new wheels ( 18inch csl rep or seen nice alpina rep I fancy )

4. android head unit 

5. wind deflector 



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Not much changed of late im afraid, time of year i guess, so many bills to pay, short evenings and s**t weather. 


My cousin did just get a new car lift installed in his man cave so took the chance to the the car up and give it a good once over. 

- Rad in perfect condition 

- all bar front anti roll bar bushings in perfect condition, ordered anti roll bar bushing but no rush really as there is only the slightest of play in them but said as everything else suspension seemed perfect ( most seems recently replaced ) it would be a shame not to do them.

- tiny oil leak from engine bay but not 100% were from yet so cleaned all down and will have another look over next few days. 

- other than above i came away smiling from ear to ear as everything seems to be in great order 



- so apart from sorting the above short term plans are limited, I did order some wheel nut covers ( love the small details and about the only thing on my wish list i could afford at the min :-( )

- order leather repair kit and have a go at  sorting the drivers seat bolster 

- next mod im thinking is the kbs sill kit below but not crazy about the front splitter but cant make up my mind between clubsports or the csl in pic below 






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So while on a boring day stuck at home i decided to raid the shed and see if I could find any bits for a bit of diy projecting.

So with 2 small squares of light tint film I had lying around I tinted the fogs lights, also while stripped down I also painted the fog light surrounds and brake ducts satin black - All in all I think it freshens up the front end a lot.



So while I had the satin black in hand I went looking for other black plastic that needed a refresh as I hate going around the car after every wash with trim detailer 



While I was in the middle of this the post man arrived with my new latch for the toolbox flap and my wheel nut covers so on they went too, think given the black and silver theme im working on I think ill have to order a set of carbon wheel centers.



So with no chrome left on the car ( as this progresses you will see a black and silver theme come together ) I was considering changing the finish of the tail pipes to matt black but was unsure how this would looks so I tried a bit of plastic dip I had on the shelf and now love the the look so will have to do a more permanent job of it, only problem is now that I am studying the pics my cut down single exit diffuser looks a little rough soI think a new one with space for duel exit will have to be ordered.




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So Yesterday was a typical wet Irish Sunday and feeling a little down with the struggles of life, I loaded up the car with some bits and pieces and took my self off the company workshop for a bit of car therapy. 


So as i said somewhere up along the line Since getting the car I always felt it was too much silver and need some contrast  and I decided to go with a silver and black theme. 


First up I masked of the rear spoiler and the wing mirrors and got on with changing them to black, still not 100% on this but will give it a week or two to settle and if I am still not happy its is only an afternoons work to change back ( will pass another wet miserable Sunday )





While that dried I got on with changing the badges and wheel centers to black and silver 



Added some sill extensions ( vote is also out on these )




After A wipe down pull her back out into the rain to see how it all looked in the day light.






I know both bumpers have bad scraps on them from previous owner but I am going to wait till the weather pics ups before having them repainted 

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Stopped off on the way home for a coffee and grabbed a few more pics to do a comparison from when I got her to today 

The day I got her home.





And this is were we are at now






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Few pic's taken outside my friends cafe. We were all down for our AGM and meeting to start planning out this years show for our club VAGE.ie, while this is a VAG owners club in the last few years we have opened the doors to all classic and modified German brands. The Show will be towards the end of the summer in Co.Cork, Ireland but I will post more details for any Irish members as soon as they are confirmed. 

Also wanted to give a shout out to my friend Paul and all the team at the Greenway Cafe, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. If anyone finds themselves holidaying in the area do pop in and say hello, Paul is an out and out petrol head and will be happy to chat. Paul started The Cafe and Charity Rebike to gather unwanted and unloved bikes, recondition them and give back to family's, centers and groups were children might never get another opportunity to have a bicycle of there own. 







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So the BAD.

Purchased some clubsport splitters from Ebay which were described as new but arrived with scraps from running over kerbs on the underside, not really worth the wait and bother of returning so I am just going to refinish them and move on.


The good:

so excitement got the better of me so decided to give them a quick test fit with tape in the office carpark and I LOVE them should have been the first thing I ordered.




I know there is the dents in the wheel arch and scrapes on the front bumper but am still holding off for better weather to have this done due to road conditions in my area.

Was think to finish the front end look:

* Silver / lightly smoke Tinted ( show only ;-)  plates )

* split lights and paint inner indicator parts 

But really have to save some penny's for new wheels, while I really like the look of the sport wheels in person the curved spokes make them look really small even for 17". Would love to pick up a set of LM reps and finish in satin black.

Also thinking of dying the roof black to tone it in with the rest of the car thoughts????

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Ummm.. They're not clubsport splitters! They're CSL style splitters..

Admittedly there's not much difference but CS ones are more "boxy", not quite as sharp as they go into the middle of the car and usually wrap all the way around the corner of the bumper back to the wheel well.

These are CS splitters for reference:


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Sorry @momo hadnt looked in on this thread in a few weeks as did have much to update, no time no money.

But ya you are 100% right they are csl style, actually ordered the wrong ones off ebay but happy mistake as I much prefer these now.

Time to stop with the small stuff for a while and focus on getting new wheels, really want a set of 18'' satin Black LM reps ( def cant afford genuine ) and a small drop on the front. 


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So not much in the way of updates on the E46, currently working on the coolant system ( PITA ) but time and funds seriously limited at the minute.

Recently found some pics of old projects, not all of them by any means, really wish I had been better at keeping pics over the years.






Mk2 Golf Gti 16v, got her as a restored to original car in great condition added coils, poly bushes, uprated brakes on front MK4 on Rear, swapped out engine ( for a TSR Unit ) and detailed, and so so much more.... Had this car for about 8-9 years and would have her back tomorrow if I could find it.




These pictures were taken just after the current owners brother bought her off me about 7 years ago.. have heard that he has pulled it out of the shed and started an engine rebuild, be nice to see her out and about again.



Father and son Mk1 sportline project 


Bug eye WRX, awesome car just not really me nice to have ticked one off 


944 2.7 Lux, another father son project 


Bought as a cheap daily, was at a price I couldn't leave behind but surprised my self how much I fell for this car 


Easily the most comfortable car I ever owned 


Bandit 650, my first proper bike 


Another I wish I had never let go, ZX6R



couple of the dailys I had during the 5 years I lived in Cluj, Romania 


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Few Bank holiday weekend updates. 


On a recent trip to a bmw breakers I was waiting around the stores while they searched for some bits for me, a glance over my shoulder and i spotted  a set of mirrors on the shelf marked as 2001 Ci, pulled them down and they had BMW branding and part numbers on them. Now I am still new to Bmw's and all the oem+ upgrades but these certinally looked like m3 mirrors to me and even if I was wrong the would be better than the square, ugly, dated elephants ears that were on her now...


"so how much for these buddy?"

"Is there a pair "


"ER giver me 40 bucks"


Painted mirrors gloss black to match the shadow line trim and the black outlining to the windscreen, but felts there was to many tones of black on the car so refinished the grills and csl splitters from satin to glass black 










Edited by Andrew Fanning

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Looks good! Although not a fan of the door mirror colour.. Looks like you nicked them off a black car and  couldn't be ar$ed painting them! :lol:

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Thanks @momo, Ya I knew the black wouldnt be everyones cup of tea but I always felts silver e46s can look a bit plane and need some contrast, god knows how long they will stay black or even on the car before i change my mind again.

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Got my new ( to me ) wheels painted over the weekend just waiting for some fresh center caps now 






Edited by Andrew Fanning
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I am still waiting on new center caps but excitement got the better of me and i just had to get the wheels on today.

Still needs settle a bit more and I think the front will benefit from a small spacer. While i was in there i cleaned and painted the caliper and dust shields but want to go back again another day and tidy up inside the arches more.










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A little off the normal flow of the rest of my thread I would like to share some details of an other project I am involved in.

As a long term suffer of mental health issues I find that when I don't have funds to work on my own car and have no interest in sports or going to the pub  as a distraction I end up in ruts of going from work to home to watch TV and repeat day in day out.


I have recently joined a mens shed group sort of group for men with mental health issues in need of some support. The premise of the group is a place to go when ever you need it, the other members are always willing to lend an ear or if you don't feel like talking you can just pick some tools and work on the what ever bike project is on the go at the time. Below is or current project, a Yamaha RD250 LC.


Please everybody watch your mental health and if you arent feeling your self please do talk to someone weather it is your doctor, a friend, a family member or like me a group of trust people who know what you are going through, I have been through some really dark days and know without the help of these people I would not be were I am today.






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Wise words Sir. I have good mental health but have had times that have been tricky. The times that have been tricky could easily have not turned out for the better. 

I have a friend younger than I who'd moved away that killed himself. 

Cars bikes are a good way of keeping you occupied to limit the thinking that can exacerbate problems and with people to talk to you can beat it.


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So with a couple of shows on over the bank holiday weekend and s**t looking weather report a plan was made to use a buddies amazing garage to do a few updates and some deep cleaning.








At Least the sun came out for the show, I am trilled with how this car is coming together. 

Nest on the to do list.

* lower front 

* order new side repeaters 

* order side skirt extension 

* spend some more time bringing interior upto a nice clean fresh standard 

* sort out some marks and dings on body work which are bugging me 




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