Activate Keyless Remote

I purchased a 1997 Z3 1.9 roadster in June and only received one keyless entry remote, even though it came with two sets of keys. Two weeks ago, I was searching for another remote, and found that if I were to purchase a keyless remote (part # 82 11 1 469 448) at a BMW dealership, it would cost around $120. Also, if I wanted to have the remote activated, so that it would operate on my vehicle, it would cost an additional $70. For all us BMW owners out there, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that you bought a $30,000 sports car, and yet BMW still feels free to charge excessive amounts of money for relatively simple things. Activating a keyless remote is a simple thing. To make a long story short, I managed to buy a copy of the instructions, on how to activate or deactivate the keyless remote, for $7. I feel that something so simple (and actually pretty fun), should not cost $70. It all boils down to highway robbery. I know that this works on a ’97 Z3, and with a keyless remote part # 82 11 1 469 448, so, without further adieu, here are the instructions for activating a keyless remote on a BMW. FOR FREE!!!!

Each remote transmitter has a unique identification (ID) code. In order for a replacement remote to operate your security system, or to delete the ID code from a lost remote, you must follow the procedures detailed below so that your system’s control module will learn/delete the desired ID code(s). This code-learning initialization procedure must be followed precisely within the sequence and time constraints specified, in order for the procedure to be carried out successfully.

Preparation

1. Close all doors, trunk, and hood.

2. The security system must be in “disarm” mode. The key must be removed from the ignition key slot.

Enter Code-Learning Mode

3. Open the trunk and leave it open.

4. Open the driver’s door and sit in the driver’s seat.

5. Close the driver’s door.

6. Cycle the ignition switch five times between the “off” position and position 2 (ignition “ON”, all dash warning lamps will illuminate). The red status LED will illuminate continuously, and the siren will “chirp” once, to indicate that the code-learning mode has been initiated.

DO NOT START THE ENGINE

The ignition switch cycling in step #6 must be performed within ten seconds.

The sequence in steps #1-6 must be performed within 45 seconds.

Registering/Delete ID Code(s)

7. Open driver’s door, (remain seated in driver’s seat)

8. Close driver’s door.

9. Press and release any button on the remote you wish to register into the system. The status LED will shut off momentarily to indicate that one ID code has been registered.

10. Repeat steps 7 through 9 to register the remaining three ID codes.

Exiting Code-Learning Mode

11. Open driver’s door, and exit from vehicle, leaving the door opened.

12. Close trunk.

13. Close driver’s door. The LED will turn off and the siren will “chirp” twice.

14. The initialization procedure is now completed, test all remotes to confirm operation.

It is possible for the system to memorize a total of four different ID codes. As a new code is initialized into memory, the oldest code in memory is automatically deleted. If you had lost your remotes and wished to delete the lost remote ID codes from memory, you could initialize the ID code from a newly purchased replacement transmitter four times thereby deleting the previous ID codes from system memory.

If you have any questions, I can be reached at KitIson1985@aol.com.

BMW Side Impact Protection

At BMW factory in South Carolina there is a Z3 Safety Shell Exhibit that shows off some of the design and technology BMW is using to make these cars as safe as possible. One of the improvements they are especially proud of is the yellow bar you see running horizontally across the door.

It looks simple enough but this bar is designed to protect the occupant by spreading the impact in front of and behind the driver. At the exhibit we were told that this could easily make the difference between walking away from an accident or not.

Okay forget marketing hype, Mike Dwyer saw this device work in real life. “I had someone run a red light and hit me directly on the drivers door at about 35mph. Only a few minor nicks for me, but the M roadster had the back left wheel tweeked and the total bill was almost $12k”

Looking at this picture you can see that the door was the impact zone. But notice the raised ridge (and picture that yellow bar from the safety shell exhibit).

Retrofitting BMW Roll Hoops

Pros: Upgrades both safety and image of pre-98 Z3’s to 98+ standards. Added protection in the event of rollover. Creates framework for additional accessories, like the windblocker.
Cons: Long, involved procedure. Plenty of opportunity to break stuff. Relatively high retrofit cost for what was a no-cost upgrade to the ’98s.
Cost: $633 ~ $840 (not including installation)

If your BMW Z3 does not have rollhoops it may be possible to retrofit them into your vehicle. BMW has an upgrade kit, but it can only be used on Z3s built on or after 1/97. Specifically 1.9 VIN LB83105 and later; 2.8 VIN LC01377 and later. No earlier production will work (and remember — some “1997” cars were actually built in 1996).

There is no external indication of this. The cars made in 1996 and in 1997 look the same. However, the designers clearly thought that the car needed rollhoops and tried to plan for it, even though the hoops were not ready in 1996 and 1997. It looks like some kind of manufacturing error led to the release of the ’96 cars without the hoop supports, but in ’97 they had (at least) started to install the critical braces. In ’98 the hoops became a factory installed option, standard in the US, optional in Europe and other parts of the world.

(Editors Note: Another rumor was that BMW Legal held up the release of the roll hoops, but manufacturing had already made the design changes. So just the hoops themselves with removed from the scheduled production.)

If your car meets the VIN requirements, it means it can be retrofitted. When you order the kit, you will receive new hoops and a set of instructions. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems:

First, the kit is not complete, there are some additional parts required. The list of parts varies depending on the type of car you have (color and rear-console configuration).

Second, the instructions with the kit do not cover the install for a Harmon Kardon equipped vehicle.

This article seeks to address these shortcomings and to provide the potential hoop-installer with enough information to make the decision to install themselves or to have BMW do the job.

General Instructions

BMW will generally quote about 5 hours of time to do the install. Most BMW dealers charge around $75 per hour. A competent do-it-yourselfer should plan on about 8 to 10 hours. Although it’s not a technically complex procedure, there are lots of steps and some fabrication required. In general, anyone handy with a wrench and power drill can probably do it. The only “special” requirements are for the special tools required: TORX bits, metric torque wrench, Hex keys, dremal tool or power drill and screwdrivers.

Although your car can be driven during this procedure, it will likely have a lot of small parts loose, so it’s not advisable. Therefore you should plan ahead and have all the parts and tools ready beforehand.

Before you start, clean the rear window. Once the hoops are on it will be a lot harder to do so you want to do a really good job. In addition, have a couple of towels around to protect the window as you work. Generally speaking, the top is down for most of the install, so only a small part of the window is exposed.

As with all procedures read all the instructions first. Print these instructions beforehand. You’ll want them close by as you start to take your car apart. The hoop kit will come with instructions as well, but they will be in German with an English transation in the back. It’s much easier to follow these instructions in English (unless, of course, you speak German 😉

As you remove small parts, tape them to the instruction sheet or tape them near where they came from (whichever is easier for you). There are lots of different sizes and shapes and they are easily confused.

When you are done, sweep up before moving the car, that way you will not run over an errant screw and ruin a $200 tire.

BMW only wrote up instructions for cars with the “Storage Compartment” option. They did, however, provide parts for retrofit of HK subwoofer cars, but with no additional instructions. Since the majority of the instructions in this article come directly from the BMW english instructions shipped with the kit, they are intended for the “Storage Compartment” installation, but can generally be used with the HK subwoofer. I have added notes where the Harmon Kardon installation differs. These are identified by “HK NOTE:”. There are no instructions for the Nokia subwoofer and no one I have ever talked to has attempted to retrofit hoops to a Nokia-equipped car.

Parts

The part number for the main kit is 54-61-9-408-817. BMW list price is $640.00, but you can find them at a discounted cost of $430 from some internet-friendly BMW parts departments. You can also try your local BMW dealer who will generally give BMWCCA members a discount on parts (15 or 20%).

In addition to the kit you also need to order a replacement set of plastic covers for the rear storage/subwoofer area:

The actual part numbers will differ depending on the color of your interior and your rear compartment type (Storage or HK Sub). See the following table for the list of parts you’ll need to order in addition to the hoop kit:

Harmon Kardon Subwoofer Storage compartment

Beige interior

51-16-8-407-986 $59.41

51-43-8-407-167 $28.09

51-43-8-407-168 $28.09

51-43-8-407-173 $4.45

51-43-8-407-174 $4.45

65-10-8-407-995 $8.57

65-10-8-407-996 $8.57

Total: $141.63

51-16-8-407-179 $10.01

51-16-8-407-180 $10.01

51-16-8-407-239 $88.72

51-43-8-407-167 $28.09

51-43-8-407-168 $28.09

51-43-8-407-173 $4.45

51-43-8-407-174 $4.45

Total: $173.82

Black interior

51-16-8-407-985 $59.41

51-43-8-407-165 $28.09

51-43-8-407-166 $28.09

51-43-8-407-171 $4.45

51-43-8-407-172 $4.45

65-10-8-407-995 $8.57

65-10-8-407-996 $8.57

Total: $141.63

51-16-8-407-177 $10.01

51-16-8-407-178 $10.01

51-16-8-407-238 $88.72

51-43-8-407-165 $28.09

51-43-8-407-166 $28.09

51-43-8-407-171 $4.45

51-43-8-407-172 $4.45

Total: $173.82

The kit for the subwoofer will only work with the Harmon Kardon subwoofer. There is no kit available for Z3s with the “regular” Nokia subwoofer.

HK Note: If you’re doing HK, you’ll also need six 6×20 (6 mm x 1mm) pan-head screws which can be bought from Home Depot or your local hardware supply.

You may also want to order a number of small caps for the screw heads:

Black Screw Cap: 51 161 949 793

Beige Screw Cap: 51 168 398 920

You will be removing about 6 of them and will, more than likely, destroy most of them in the process.

You should also order a gasket: 51 168 399 072

This part fits in between the new rear covers. Although you do get one gasket with it, the extras will allow you to seal up the area between the covers.

Thre are two extra projects which are easy to perform as part of this install. For them you will need 4 size “00” washers, a small strip of velcro “loop-side” and a piece of foam padding approximately 12 x 12 inches large and 1/4 inch thick. These projects are not absolutely necessary to do for the hoop install, but since you will have the car apart, it’s a good time to do it.

Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, hoop-install is also a perfect time to replace your rear speakers.

54-61-9-408-817 Kit Contents

HK Note: You will need to modify part H. You can toss parts I and J – you won’t need them.

Extra Parts:

You should have the following “Extra parts”:

m. seatbelt tower covers (L & R)

n. inner covers (L & R)

o. center cover

p. brackets (2x)

q. gasket set

r. pan head screws (from Home Depot – HK only) (6x)

Tools

Note: In the instructions, the word “spanner” means “wrench”. The instructions were clearly written by Germans for the UK market.

You’ll also need a socket set (with philips screwdriver bits for hard to reach places) and a saw or a dremal tool if you are doing the HK install.

Important Safety Tip: When sticking tools down inside the car, be sure they are tightly attached. When I did this, in the final tightening of the hoops, I dropped a TORX attachment down into the opening and had to take the whole thing apart. Don’t let this happen to you. Suggestion: tape your tools together.

Phase I – Lay out your parts

Lay out a sheet or large towel and place all your parts on it. Take inventory and make sure you have everything:

Phase II – Strip Your Car Naked

In order to install the hoops, you will need to remove a large number of parts from the car. Before starting, lay down a sheet, or large towel where you will place the parts you remove. Be sure to label each part as you remove it, this will help when you go to put it back together.

Important Safety Tip: You will need to have the top folded down. The rear window will be exposed and will be very close to where you are working. You should take extra care to cover the window with a towel to protect it.

Note: Those darn screw covers! They are easy to tear. I’ve used a strong paper clip to remove them, but you are better off just buying a bunch before you start and not worrying about how badly you screw them up in the removal process. There is a small hole along the edge, you can grasp onto this hole and pull. Usually the cover just shreds at this point.

Note that you just gently lifting up the console enough to get at the screws. Be careful, it’s still attached at the front and you can damage it if you pull too much.

Hint: raise the roof at this point. It gives you a little more room to work in for the next step and there’s less danger of hurting the rear window as you remove the screws behind the storage box.

Now lower the roof.

HK Note: In order to gain access to the HK compartment, pull up on the cover, hard, from the front center area. It is hinged at the back and should just fold back. Don’t worry about breaking it – you’re just going to throw it away.

Next remove the grill for the HK “speaker”. You can do this by grasping the sides and pulling towards you. Remove your “snorkel” (this is the part which moves the sounds from the HK down to the grill) by pulling it outwards through the grill opening. Next, remove the HK subwoofer by unscrewing it from it’s mounts (4 screws) and unhooking it from the wiring harness. (for more information see this article from //MZ3.NET)

The instructions “Undo the clips(1) on the rear floor covering” refers to the plastic piece behind the seats. The diagram shows you looking from the drivers side towards the passenger seat belt. Unfortunately, in order to get this part to move as much as you need to, you also have to undo the sill strip at the bottom of the door. I just pulled up (HARD) and it came off. While you’re pulling it feels like you’re going to break it, but it’s pretty resilient. There’s probably a better way to do it. I suspect if you pull up and “reverse curl” the sil, the part will release from the fasteners. However on mine, 2 fasteners pulled out, still attached on both sides. This was not a big deal, I simply removed the third, and inserted it into the sil on reinstallation.

Phase III – Install the Hoops

OK, you now should have a naked car. The next step is to start installing the hoop supports and the hoops themselves.

HK Note: Before starting, attach your extra “HK part P” to “Part B” (see the parts list) with the screws you got from Home Depot. This bracket will support your HK subwoofer later on in the install.

HK Note: Skip this step, you don’t need the hinge

HK Note: Skip this step (F 36 54 059)- don’t remove the old silver “hinge supports” – you need them to back up the Tenax fasteners.

HK Note: you’ll need to “modify” the box which fits inside the console by cutting off the ends as indicated by the red line in picture. You don’t use the center box, but you will need the “ears” (the ends). Keep as much of the ends as will allow you to preserve the slots (these are used for the trim parts to secure with).

HK Note: Skip this step (F36 54 060). You will not need the hinges. Look at the next step, but skip down to the next HK Note instructions.

HK Note: Secure the side parts (highlighted in red in the picture) as indicated in the instructions. Next put the HK Subwoofer back in, reconnecting it to the wiring harness. The HK Cover does not use the hinges. Instead, it is secured by small tabs in the back. The new top will need to be inserted vertically. Before doing so, you must modify the metal plate (highlighted in yellow)

You’ll need to drill a couple new holes in the plate which secures the front of the cover. The problem is that the “studs” in the cover don’t line up the way the ones in the old cover do. I put some masking tape onto the cover and “pushed” an indentation into it to see where the holes should go. I then used my demal to make the holes. Careful: I made a mistake and made the holes a little too large, so I to buy a new part and start all over.

You also need to enlarge the existing holes to make room for some new screws on the cover where the old studs went. The new top then just “drops in”. You need to be careful to place it down vertically or you might break the small plastic parts which hold it on.

Phase IV Additional Hints and Tips

Now that you’ve taken most of the back console apart, you can take the opportunity to improve things a little more. There are two major areas in the rear console which can be improved with a little extra work:

– Eliminate the buzz from the HK subwoofer

– Improve the Tenax Fasteners (these are the little round knobby bits you fasten your boot cover to)

First wrap your subwoofer snorkel in some kind of foam insulation when you are reinstalling it. This prevents it from vibrating. I used some backing foam, but you can find this stuff at any harware store in the insulation section.

Next, get some velcro. You’ll just need the “fuzzy” (loop) side. Cut it into small (1/4 inch) strips. Look for wear-points on the inside of the grill. If you can’t find any, simply place the velcro near each corner. If you do find a wear point, place the velcro over it. This prevents the grill from buzzing.

While you’ve got the Tenax fasteners off, do the “Robert trick” – put a couple of “00 washers” behind them to stick them out more and make the boot easier to fasten.

Phase V Cleanup

Parts-is-parts… and if you did the HK install, you’ll have a bunch of extras:

Don’t worry about it. The HK install does not require these parts as they are designed to support the storage compartment install.

You did it!

Congratulations! You’ve now got a safer, cooler looking car.

Now that you’ve got rollhoops you can also avail yourself to another nice feature: The Wind Blocker. There are two versions available, a clear, plexiglas version from Z-Aids and a mesh version form BMW (Part # 82-15-9-408-546). This article from MZ3.net provides a pretty good comparison of the two products. I personally own both of them and enjoy using the clear screen in the spring and fall, reserving the mesh screen for the summer (because you can fold it down if you want the “wind through your hair” effect).

Overall, I’m very pleased with my rollhoops. Hope you are too!

Valentine-1 Installation

In search for a power source to wire up my V-1, I found the article “Finding power in your center console” by Vince Parsons. Sure enough, I found the connector he describes, and started thinking how to run the wire and stuff. Then I realized that the connector that’s part of the wiring kit that comes with V-1 is the exact size of the tabs next to the ASC button on the console in my ’97 1.9 Z3. I tried it, and it fits perfectly! I used some glue to stick it from the inside.

Initially I was thinking of hiding the wire of the V-1, but then I realized that, since I keep my V-1 on the dashboard in the center of my windshield, in case I get stopped by police it would be inconvinient for me to disconnect the wire from the side of the radar detector. With my setup, all I need to do is unplug the wire from the connector in the console, then grab the V-1 from the dash board (it sits there attached with velcro) and throw it under the seat. And more importantly, the connector is very neatly mounted in the center console.

BMW Ultimate Driving Experience

For those of you with a teenage, or soon to be teenage driver, you can now rest easy. You no longer have to fear that your teen will wreck your Z3. BMW has stepped in and saved the day. Thanks to BMW’s generosity, you can know sign up your young driver for a free driving class called the Student Driver Course. This class is offered at the Ultimate Driving Event, which travels across the United States.

Saturday, December 4, I drove up to the Arlington International Racecourse to participate in the Student Driver Course. At 9:15 in the morning, I arrived amid a parking lot full X5s. There were beautiful Bimmers everywhere. Off in the distance, there was the wild scream of a 750iL speeding out of the AIR parking lot. I have never heard such a sweet sounding engine.

After going through registration, I made my way to the Orientation Room. The instructors, all involved in the field of racing, gave a 30 minute speech in vehicle dynamics. The speech alone was more information than I had received in a semester’s worth of Driver’s Education. The instructors discussed how to control a skid and the definitions of understeer and oversteer. The instructors also explained the various benefits and faults of traction control and ABS brakes.

After being divided into three groups, we finally hit the pavement. There are three different exercises we would complete before the class was over. They are as follows:

Emergency Braking:

This exercise has real world implications. Even if you don’t own a BMW, or don’t allow your teenager to drive your Bimmer, there is a lot to gain from this exercise. To begin, we pulled up to the starting line. When instructed, we floored the gas pedal and accelerated to approximately 45 mph. When the instructor’s fingernails were sufficiently dug into the center arm rest, he would tell us to brake.

On my first try, the instructor had me brake 3/4 the way down the straight. On my second try, the instructor had me brake through the turn. I was really impressed by the stability of the car. My mind told me it was impossible to brake hard and turn. But, the 328i stayed right on course. It took a conscious effort not to let off the brake when the ABS engaged. Like most drivers, I knew not to let off the brake, but my mind told me otherwise.

The Skid Mat:

For those of you who live in the Snow Belt, the Skid Mat holds a wealth of knowledge. The Skid Mat is essentially a giant tarp covered in soapy water. To begin, we pulled up to the edge of the mat and then gave the steering wheel 1/4 of a turn. Then we floored the gas pedal and tried to make a full right turn without losing control.

On both tries, I successfully negotiated the Skid Mat. The traction control was flawless, and smoothly back down the throttle. On both tries, I had to counter-steer a bit, although I never felt like the car was going to spin out of control. After my turn was done, I took my position in the back seat. To have some fun with the other driver, the instructor turned off the traction control. Instead of taking the turn, we spun out.

Accident Avoidance

Many drivers, when confronted with an accident ahead, instinctively slam on the brakes. A better solution would be to avoid the accident all together. Often, there isn’t enough time and space to brake. To prove this point, the instructors had us do our own emergence lane changes. To start, we accelerated full-throttle down the straight-away to about 40 mph. Then when we approached the lane change, we swerved quickly, and then braked to a stop.

On my first try, I anticipated too much. Instead of quickly swerving through the cones, I merely “carved” my way through them. The second time around, tried to act as surprised as possible. Another driver was attempting the same exercise. But, he braked as he was swerving to the other lane and really lost it. No harm was done though. In fact, that is the great thing about the Student Driver Course; you can exceed your limits and not do any harm.

Being 17 years old, I am a relatively new driver. I found the Student Driver Course to be an excellent resource. Don’t allow your teenage driver to drive you BMW unless they agree to take this course. Being a BMW fan, and hopefully a future BMW owner, I found this to be the best 2 hours of my life. Hopefully, those 2 hours will make for a lifetime of enjoyable driving. For more information, call BMW at: 1-800-961-4BMW.

AC Schnitzer Roll Hoops

Pros: Look Really Good, Easy to Install
Cons: Very Expensive
Cost: $1086 (list)

Comparing the Schnitzer polished stainless steel roll hoops to the stock BMW roll hoops the there are several differences. The most obvious difference is the chrome finish instead of the flat black rubberized finish. The Schnitzer hoops have a black pad on the top front of the hoops. And while the overall shape is nearly identical the profile of the Schnitzer hoops is round where the stock hoops have a arrow or triangle shaped profile.

On closer inspection there is one other difference that does affect the installation. The BMW hoops are held in place with three torx bolts. Where each of these bolts comes on contact with the stock roll hoops there is a shallow bored out indentation. The Schnitzer roll hoops do not have these. (Note: You can click on any of the pictures in this article to see a larger image).

When I started this project I was expecting a complicated installation procedure. I had installed an HMS roll bar on my previous 1.9 Z3 and while the installation went smoothly with the HMS roll bar, it took most of the day. I wasn’t expecting this installation to take all day, but I figured it would take at least a couple hours. To my surprise the installation was over before I knew it.

The only special tool you will need for this installation is a torx 40 driver. I had to start with a visit to the local hardware store. I had a set of torx heads for my cordless screw driver, but the largest one was a torx 30 (too small). In addition to the torx 40, I also used a phillips head and a flat blade screw driver.

Each roll hoop is held in place with three torx bolts (that act like set screws). The first step of the installation is to gain access to two of the set screws by removing the access panel at the base of the roll hoop. Use caution to make sure you don’t damage the plastic edges when you pop off the access panel.

Once the panel is removed you can see the two torx 40 bolts (I’m calling them set screws). Remove both of these but hold on to them because we will be reinstalling them later. These two torx bolts are shorter than the third bolt we will be removing in the next step so don’t mix them up.

Note: the pictures in this article show the removal of the drivers side roll hoop. You can duplicate the steps for the passenger side at the same or do the passenger side after the drivers side is complete.

The other set screw we need to remove is holding the inside of the roll hoop in place. To gain access to this bolt you will need to remove the HK subwoofer (or storage compartment). Rather than duplicate those instructions read the H&K Sub Dissected article.

Once the subwoofer is removed you will see the one remaining torx 40 bolt. Remove this bolt but hold on to it because we will be reinstalling it later.

Once the three torx 40 bolts are removed you can pull straight up on the roll hoop and it will slide out. There are rubber gaskets between the stock roll hoop and the plastic of the rear console. When I pulled the roll hoop out one of the plastic sections came loose because the gasket was stuck to it. Don’t be concerned if this happens to you, the plastic can be snapped back on.

Installing the Schnitzer roll hoop is the direct reverse of the steps we’ve done so far. The Schnitzer hoops come with their own rubber gaskets so make sure you have them on both the inner and the outer bars before sliding the new Schnitzer hoop down into place.

Earlier I told you that the Schnitzer hoops didn’t have the small indentations for the torx bolts. Because of this the torx bolts will not go back in as far as the stock bolts did. This initially concerned me so once I tightened the bolts to 22 nm (as the included instructions stated). I then removed the Schnitzer roll hoop and inspected it.

I was happy to see that each of the torx bolts had left slight indentations in the bar. So I was confident that the new Schnitzer roll hoops were just as secure as the old BMW ones.

Once I had one of the Schnitzer roll hoops installed I compared the two. The Schnitzer roll hoop appeared to lean slightly more forward than the BMW hoop (the picture at the right shows this). The two hoops appeared to be the same height, however it’s possible that the Schnitzer one was slightly taller.

I’m not sure what to think of the black pad on the front of the roll hoop. Visually it doesn’t do anything for me and I was considering removing it. But then there was a story on the message board about an individual that was driving a Z3 and during an accident hit his head on the BMW roll hoop. After reading that story I decided to leave the pad.

Right after installing the Schnitzer roll hoops I wondered if it was “too much”. But that thought faded as I continued staring at them. The ultimate test came when I asked my wife to come to the garage and give her opinion. She took a look at them and her first comment was “WOW”, and with that one word I knew I had done the right thing. I know the chrome look isn’t something that everybody is going to like, but I REALLY like it.

If there is a downside to these roll hoops, it is that I don’t want to cover them up with a wind screen. The BMW roll hoop wind screen still works with the Schnitzer hoops, but the pad on the front of the hoop stretches the material pretty tight. I’m okay with that but more importantly the BMW wind screen hides the chrome.

At the 1999 Z3 Homecoming I showed the Schnitzer roll hoops to JD (the maker of the clear windscreen). He measured the Schnitzer hoops and made a slightly modified version of his windscreen that works with the Schnitzer hoops. Turns out all he had to do was cut out a couple notches for the black pads since the Schnitzer hoops have the same curve, height and mounting points as the BMW hoops.

X-Pel’s Invisible Bra for the Z3

Pros: Protects the fragile paint on the Z3. Hard to detect from a distance of 4 or more feet.
Cons: Moderately hard installation
Cost: Contact XPel at http://www.xpel.com/ or 800-447-9928
The Days Events

  • Gathering at Rory’s
  • Fixing Paint Chips
  • X-Pel
  • Swapping Mirrors
  • Boot Cover Swap
  • Chrome Front Grill
  • The BMW Z3 is painted with EPA backed “environmentally friendly” paint. The makers claim that the new paint is less susceptible to fading and oxidation, but an apparent downside is that the new paint is much more brittle. While BMW has never openly admitted this, the evidence is overwelming. Rock chips are appearing on nearly all BMW Z3s and there really isn’t a solution to stopping them. While owners can’t win the war in the long run they can protect themselves and prolong the life of their paint using a product developed by 3M.

    3M makes a thin clear layer of protective film which can be applied directly over the paint. With this protective layer of clear skin the Z3 has additional protection against rock chips. It appears 3M decided to not market this new product directly to consumers but rather they offered the product to vendors that could make custom kits specifically made for certain vehicles. This is where X-Pel enterers the picture.

    X-Pel has kits made for the Z3 and M roadster that fit over the more vulnerable areas on the Z3. The front bumper and front 1/3 section of the hood are the most frequent places where the chips occur. The X-Pel kit covers all this area. In addition X-Pel also offers additional (optional) kits for the headlights, foglights, rearview mirrors and rear fender flares.

    Installing the kit requires patients and lots of water. The Z3 is watered down with soapy water so the thin layer can me float and move easily during the fitting process. A Squeegee is then used to press the film against the paint and remove the water from under the film. With the film in direct contact with the paint it adheres to the surface and stays in place. The film itself is not water tight so any remaining water trapped under the film eventually evaporates.

    Once installed, the thin layer can be seen on close inspection, but its difficult (you have to be looking for it). From a distance of four or more feet the kit can not be seen. On closer distances it is possible if you look for the edges. Occasionally you can catch it at the right angle and see the difference in refection. I stood over Larry’s car for several minutes trying to find that “just right” angle to show this to you in a picture. In the picture on the right you can see a flatter and slightly more yellow tint from the covered area. The yellow tint is really more of trick of the camera than an actual trait of the X-Pel kit. To the naked eye I never saw this yellow tint (sometimes cameras see things we don’t).

    X-Pel said that once applied, wax and wash the car the same as you usual. Except you should take a little more caution around the edges so you don’t get wax buildup on the leading edge of the kit. The expected life of the kit is four to five years.

    The Z3 club in Texas had a gathering in Dallas that didn’t involve driving but rather car care. The club invited X-Pel to come along and demonstrate the kit. By the time the event was over X-Pel had installed their kits on several Z3s and M roadster and each owner was pleased with their purchase.

    Swapping Mirrors

    Cell Phone and Radar Detector Power, Another Way

    I was getting tired of plugging my cell phone charger into my cigar lighter, so I decided to permanently wire it into my car. I was thinking that I would use power from one of the various unused connectors or perhaps from the radio. But then I came across Vince’s article and it gave me the idea that I could use the BMW cell-phone connector.

    What’s more important to note here is that I could use this connector for more than just a cell phone. I could use it for anything I wanted. Vince’s article details a way that you can order the connector and pins for the cell phone connector. In addition, both switched and unswitched power are available, and they are both regulated by individual fuses in the fuse box, so you can play around without the danger of seriously hurting the car. But best of all using this connector means no permanent wiring changes to the car. I would not have to cut a single wire that was part of the car, which sounded pretty good to me!

    First thing I did was prepare the charger. I opened it up, and replaced the metal contacts on the circuit board that ran to the tip and the sides of the cigar lighter with wires about 1 foot long. Then I closed the charger back up, running those wires out the hole in the tip of the charger.

    Next I prepared the radar detector by cutting the cord right before the cigar lighter plug. I placed the radar detector where it was supposed to be on the windshield, then ran the wire along the inside of the window and down the seam of the door, and under the steering column. From there, if you lift the cover on the shifter and the handbrake, you should be able to fish the wires through to where the cell phone connector is. NOTE: Those that are truly anal-retentive will probably want to run the wire INSIDE the plastic pieces along the inside of the windshield. Other articles here can tell you how to remove it.

    I then found the cell phone connector as detailed in Vince’s article. I took the wires from the charger and the radar detector and started soldering the pins on them. One wire from the radar detector (the positive lead) goes to a pin. One wire from the charger goes to a pin (once again, the positive lead). The remaining wires (which should both be ground [negative lead]) should go together into one pin.

    Now put the charger inside the center console, with the piece that connects to the cell phone (and the coiled cord with it) coming out from under the bottom of the console on the passenger side behind the seats. I used a piece of Velcro (the non-fuzzy side) to hold the cell phone connector against the back wall.

    Time to start the final piece. Put the pin for the radar detector into the hole in the connector for switched power, and put the pin for the cell phone charger into the unswitched power hole. Put the shared pin into the hole for the ground connection. Plug the connector into the cell phone connector in the car and you’re ready to go!

    NOTE: I also replaced the fuses in the fuse box that related to the cell phone power with 5 amp fuses (smaller than the standard fuses). This just gives me an extra degree of protection that I like. I would have used smaller fuses (like 1 or 2 amps), but I couldn’t find any in that form-factor that had such a small rating.

    Valentine One Radar Detector

    A police officer had a perfect hiding place for watching for speeders and used it quite often. But one day the officer found traffic surprisingly tame. After a long while, the officer found the reason: a 10 year old boy was standing on the side of the road with a huge hand painted sign which said “RADAR TRAP AHEAD!”

    A little more investigative work led the officer to the boy’s accomplice, another boy about 100 yards beyond the radar trap with a sign reading “TIPS” and a bucket at his feet, full of change.

    I’ve been using a BEL 605 for about 5 years now and another BEL product for about 7 years. Both detectors have kept me out of trouble and both offer a good number of bells and whistles. I was, therefore, unhappy when my 605 stopped working. Since it was 5 years old and my original price was only $40, I figured I got my money’s worth out of it. Time to buy a new detector.

    My criteria was pretty simple: I wanted to pay as little as possible for as much protection as I could get. I wanted to get the best deal. I did my homework and consulted Car & Driver’s detector comparisons. Of course, the leader is a V1 from Valentine Research. No big surprise. Everyone knows V1’s are the best. They are also the most expensive ($400). Looking at the figures, you can get about 3/4 the protection of the V1 for about 1/4 of the price. I therefore decided to check out the latest from BEL. I rejected the higher priced units, looking for something in the $100 to $150 range (heck, if I was going to spend real money, I’d buy a V1 and be done with it!). After some review (and finding a number of good prices combined with a $30 rebate) I chose a 846i.

    The 846i has a lot of neat features – immune to VG2, good field of view for Laser (about the same as Valentine, and good sensitivity on K and Ka band. The best feature, however, is the display. It lights up and tells you what type of RADAR you’re dealing with. No need to squint at little LEDs. It has a digital voice, but you can disable it and just use tones. The 846i also includes Safety Warning System (SWS) detection – . This feature alerts you to the messages broadcast in K-Band by certain road signs (the system has not received wide acceptance or use, but is used on the Mass Turnpike).

    The rest of the controls (mute/dark/city) all behave like my 605. The final cost (with a $30 rebate – only good till the end of December 98) was about $110. The unit worked well when I first tried it. The range, however, seemed somewhat shorter than I remembered compared to my 605. I soon encountered another, perhaps more serious problem: it’s not loud enough for top-down driving. If you look on the right of the unit, you can see a small speaker. This speaker actually points away from the driver when mounted in the center of the windshield (at least here in the US). When I dropped the top (on a chilly 32 degree day!) I found that even turning the volume all the way up, I had trouble hearing the warning. I totally gave up on the voice (which is kinda dorky anyway) and was just using the tone alerts. The major problem here is that they have used the most noticeable sounds for X band with K being the least distinctive. Since most highway RADAR is K, this left me somewhat exposed.

    I was getting pretty discouraged at that point when I ran across another article which indicated that “except for the V1, all other detectors seem to have lost range over the venerable ESCORT and PASSPORT in the K and X range when wideband KA was added”. Suspicions confirmed – the unit did not perform as well as some older detectors. Darn!

    OK. It’s been a good year. I had a big bonus coming and when you weigh the cost of increased insurance against the cost of a ticket (not to mention the ticket itself) you can easily start to talk yourself up to justifying the $400 cost of a V1 (OUCH! it still hurts even saying $400!). The clincher was an unexpected Christmas present (it was from my Mom…) of $100 (because she totally gave up trying to shop for me decades ago!). I picked up the phone and plunked down my four bills. A week later, a flimsy cardboard box arrives and I’ve joined the V1 set. Retrofitting the power took about 30 minutes. The V1 cord is a large, flat cord with RJ11 (telephone) jacks on either end. I elected to simply mount the unit where the BEL had been – secured to the top of the dash with velcro.

    Initial Impressions:

    Let’s just say that Mike Valentine clearly spent most of his R+D on the inside, rather than the packaging of this unit. It looks a little unfinished and really reminds me of my original FUZZBUSTER – big black box with a big knob and a big red light. It’s actually about half the size of the FUZZBUSTER and the technology involved is clearly as different as Voyager is from Capt. Kirk’s Enterprise . It just doesn’t look that way from the outside. The V1 kinda looks like it was designed by Dilbert.

    Come to think of it, there is a vague resemblance.

    The utilitarian black plastic housing of the V1 has very few curves and the display looks like it was something of an afterthought. The band indicators, small LEDs for X, K, KA and Laser, are a real letdown from the more sophisticated BEL display. Warnings are characterized by the “beep” and “braaap” system. If you’re good with music, they may be distinctive enough and if you can remember a “beep” means X band and a “braaap” means K, you may not have as many problems with the display as I do.

    The unit itself is also gargantuan compared with my little 605. Granted, the 605 does not have LASER detection, nor does it offer a rear-facing detector.

    The controls on the V1 are also a little hard to get used to. The big knob controls sound for “important alerts”. The “balance control”-like ring controls the sound for “muted alerts”. The BEL provides an auto mute feature which drops the volume of an alert to a series of “clicks” which can be silenced with a push of a button. If you press the big knob on the V1 during a full volume alert, it changes to the “muted” volume level, however, there is no way to totally silence the unit without a turn of a knob. It took a little getting used to.

    So far, I’d still give the ergonomics prize to BEL.

    I’ve already mentioned my lukewarm reception of the small K, KA, X and Laser LED’s, but I should temper this with a big, enthusiastic thumbs up for the RADAR locator display.

    After couple of RADAR encounters, I cannot imagine how I’ve ever lived without this feature! I’ve got to hand it to Valentine – this has got to be the biggest innovation in detector history! (OK, the $400 is still smarting). Not only does the locator display tell you where the RADAR source is, it also tells you how many sources it is monitoring. This allows you to sniff out revenuers who sit in the shadow of another radar signature hoping you’ll get sloppy. Let’s say you always pass the Dunkin Donuts and it always makes your detector go off. One morning you’re rolling by, the detector goes off, your tendency is to ignore it, but instead of one source, it shows two so you hit the brakes! There, hiding behind that big jelly roll is Officer Bob Speed, hoping you’ll just fly on by, helping to fill his quota. The V1 has just earned it’s keep. There are a couple of other features I’ve discovered in the past week or so – The V1 actually includes a light sensor, so it automatically dims itself at night and brightens during the day. The unit is also upgradable – Valentine will upgrade both software and hardware as new features are added.

    The V1 operates in three modes which are changed by pressing and holding the big knob when you’re not under fire:

    A – “All Bogeys” mode. In this mode, the detector alerts you, at full volume, of every burglar alarm, automatic door, microwave dish or any other source of RADAR (including Police RADAR) in the vicinity. For those of us who live in the city. This mode will drive you stark raving mad in about a minute.

    l – “Little L” Logic mode. In this mode the detector filters out what it does not think are “significant” sources of RADAR and only calls attention to them with the “muted” volume if they seem to increase in strength. If something seems really threatening, you get full volume. I’ve found this works well for me on my daily commute.

    L – “Big L” Super Logic mode. In this mode the detector tries to make the most decisions for you. I’ve fundamentally never trusted computers, so I’m a bit leery of this mode and have not made a lot of use of it.

    Nice features, but pretty much equivalent to BEL and other makers with advanced logic for signal processing.

    The cost of the V1 still bothers me. Not so much for the cost itself, it’s more the responsibility of a $400 detector on my dash. The instructions even warn you about leaving it in plain sight – it’s an invitation to a break-in. I never had to worry about that with my $40 BEL – I simply left it on the dash. With the V1, there’s really no alternative, you disconnect the unit every time you get out of the car and hook it back up when you get in. That’s the main reason I chose not to use the mounting bracket. The velcro approach is a lot easier to deal with. I’ll save the windshield mount (which strikes me as kind of flimsy) for road trips where I need peak performance. I constructed a pocket in the trunk as a place for the V1 to sleep during the day when the car is parked at work.

    The big test came when Cambridge decided to mount one of those dorky “The Speed limit is XX your speed is…” automated (self service?) RADAR signs on the way to work. The unit was mounted around a corner and up a hill. I could use the unit to test the various brands without annoying the cops. (Ever ask one of them if you can test your RADAR detector with their gun?). The V1 gave me consistent .2 mile warnings (even on “small L”). The BEL gave a respectable (but definitely shorter) .15 mile warning. Given some other encounters, I’d also predict the V1 would do better in a straight line-of-sight situation than the BEL (which is what Car +Driver said too). The sensitivity advantage clearly goes to the V1.

    So. The $400 question – is it worth it?

    At this point, after a few week’s use, I’d say “yes”, but it is a qualified yes. I still say you should buy what you need and for many people, the V1 is just overkill. If you can afford it, however, I can see no reason to spend your bucks on anything other than a V1, simply for the locator function alone. I’d like to see a better packaged V1, one with something other than those dorky RJ11 plugs for power cords, one which has a digital display of X, K, KA and L in big letters, but you certainly can’t fault the unit for performance. At an average of $100 per ticket with an insurance surcharge which can easily run into the 4 figures over 10 years (yes! MA counts those tickets against you for the next decade!) it becomes easy to justify the $280 increment over a competing brand. If you can afford the V1 – go for it! If not, be sure to test your choice with the top both up and down under your particular “normal driving conditions” before committing to the unit. It could save your hide in the long run.

    Note: Images of BEL and V1, Mike Valentine and Dilbert were all yanked from various sites w/o anyone permission and are presented here merely for purposes of illustration.

    Statistical Information

    Car & Driver 4/97, Page 115, “Rating High End RADAR/LASER detectors” (Also the issue which compares the SLK, Z3 and Boxster)
    Detector Price Overall Score X** K KA Laser*
    V1 399 97 0.30 1.50 1.70 10
    Bel 855STi 200 54 0.15 0.90 0.90 8
    Escort Solo 230 48 0.10 0.65 0.15 8
    Cobra RSA515 119 45 0.10 0.70 0.17 9
    Whistler 1490 148 42 0.10 0.40 0.60 10
    Uniden LRD 6399 SWS 83 41 0.05 0.70 0.70 9***


    * Laser units in band detection spread @ 1000 ft, all other measures in miles
    ** X band City Mode, highway mode is much greater for all models
    *** Rear detection did not work

    Car & Driver 9/95, Page 87, “Five Budget Radar Detectors” (also the issue which “Reveals the 1996 Z3 Roadster”)Note: This comparison is now over 3 years old and none of the units listed (except the V1) are likely to still be on the market.

    Detector Price Overall Score X** K KA Laser*
    V1 399 97 1.00 2.40 1.10 19
    Uniden LRD 220 SWS 86 89*** 0.39 1.00 1.70 17
    Fox 230 57 0.19 0.50 0.80 10
    Whistler 1140 63 56 0.25 0.30 0.40 19
    Bel 535i 93 54 0.25 0.41 0.80 16
    Cobra RDL212 80 27 0.19 0.30 0.00 6

    * Laser units in band detection spread @ 2000 ft, all other measures in miles

    ** X band City Mode, highway mode is much greater for all models

    *** Looking at these older figures, it seems clear the Uniden models in subsequent years have gotten worse, not better

    From the same issue:

    Countries where US detectors will probably work:

    Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, much of South America and Sweden.

    Countries using bands not covered by US detectors:

    Austria, Holland

    Countries using US and other bands:

    Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

    (Source: RADAR 800-448-5170)