BMW E46 Convertible Front Stut Brace

I finally got my car back all repaired and sorted, and it also passed the MOT at the same time.

Decided to buy the car a present i found a seller on eBay called “carparts_uk” who offers a front suspension strut brace for just under £30 posted out from Germany. (German = good start)

I have always been rather skeptical about the engine strut braces reading mixed reviews about them and never wanting to take the plunge as must of the solid ones sell for north of £100.. but for the price i went for it!


The install really was as simple as it looks.. bolt on and tighten up, it is a good solid bar with loads of adjustment options on it and the whole install took me about 35mins.

Having driven on it for few trips i genuinely do notice difference certainly stiffens things up in the convertible


Hi All,

I thought i would post an explanation as to why my posts have been lacking slightly recently

I have got pretty busy at work which has taken loads of my time up.. and unfortunately for me on way back from work someone decided to rear end my BMW pretty badly so im currently trying to sort it out! (im ok and the car is well…. we will see)

I’m just thinking happy thoughts at the moment.. hoping for the best and of course the dream of owning an E92 M3.. if anyone’s got one spare or wishes to donate the money to get one be appreciated:

Haha.. we all have dreams eh!

My posts may be quite for a few weeks whilst i try and get car sorted

Sorry for this..



BM54 Upgrade/Repair


For weeks now the audio in my E46 convertible was cutting in and out, I incorrectly assumed it was a loose wire. The truth behind this is more focussed on one downfall of the BMW/Range rover audio system.. the BM54 unit…

What is it?

The BM54 is an audio amplifier unit which sits at the heart of the audio system, its job is a bit more advanced then a standard car amplifier. it handles things like:

  • TMC – Traffic Message channel
  • Radio – Memory, signals
  • Car audio amplification/speakers (this is where the main fault lies)

Basically.. without this unit not much of your audio system will work (some might say its the single point of failure on the setup)

What happens?

These units are riddled with faults that can appear at anytime, most common faults are:

  • IC Amp Chip failure  – These chips control the audio channels ( all 4) and will take out part of the speakers/eventually all of them.
    • This can also cause sound distortion/funny noises on the channels (such as ticking)
  • Loss of power/Not turning on – This will be signified by not having an orange light on the head unit/not being able to use the head units functions.
  • Intermittent power – Fully functioning system/sometimes not turning on

So what can be done?

The device itself comes at a premium price.. you have options but not many:

  • Ebay/Auction Sites – used units go for north of £300 (and can come with faults)
  • Replacement direct from BMW – BMW will sell you a refurbished unit for anywhere between £500-700
  • Get repaired/upgraded – This is your most viable and cheapest option (price will vary depending on needs, but no where near as expensive as the above 2 options)

Who can help?

The are loads of people out there offering upgrade and repair services but be careful.. some people see easy money in “soldering together” to repair these units and can cause more harm to your audio system if things go wrong.

When i was looking for a repair upgrade job on my BM54 unit i settled on one company who really impressed me both in quality and in uniqueness.

Cartronics (website)- They are a company based in surrey in the UK (company not one man in a shed with a soldering iron) with full professional soldering/testing facilities. They do a whole range of services including:

  • Repair of all BMW audio units, CIC,CCC,ASK, L7 amplifiers Mini HK amplifiers
  • In house coding and software updates for ALL BMW models, retrofits for all models upto 2015 cars
  • ECU remaps

And much much more..

Mark is a very helpful and professional guy, who kept me updated and the whole unit was turned around in no time at all.


What people think is that its just a case of fixing the unit and that’s it… but its actually and upgrade in power and in quality.

Originally the IC audio chips are poor quality and run at roughly 20watts per channel with no additional external outputs.

A whole new IC chip setup is soldered in with its own power which can run up to 40watts per channel and is a much higher quality product. here is a pic that Mark was kind enough to send me showing the new board in place:

BMW 54 Repair Cartronics
Press on image to see larger

As you can see i have opted for the additional RCA outputs if i wish to bypass the unit all together and run and external amplifier unit instead:

Press on image to see larger

The difference in sound quality is amazing, you find yourself turning bass down!



Airbag Recall: Safety Alert, is your car one of them?

Well as per my quick previous post here i got a recall notice on my car.

I finally got to the bottom of the actual truth behind this, firstly don’t believe the standard BMW response that the dealers, customer support or anyone representing BMW are telling you. the response will no doubt be:

“just as a precaution measure we are replacing the airbag and due to parts shortage this cant be done till January 2015”

First Contact

First contact i made with BMW was a call to my dealer to establish what the letter means, as this was somewhat unclear. The letter mentioned the was a fault, said the parts possibly might not be there and to call various numbers, it  then went on to say wait to be contacted.

I rang up my local dealer, I said i have a recall letter on my car and without hesitation or mentioning airbag the girl knew exactly what it was about and said:

“ahh the airbag, just as a precaution measure we are replacing the airbag and due to parts shortage this cant be done till January 2015”

So being rather relaxed about the issue i accepted the answer and that was that.

The truth/Information

Whilst eating some lunch i decided to Google a bit and unearthed a whole load of information mainly from the US about the faulty airbag made by “Takata” this was widely used in many car makes (Honda, Subaru and BMW) just to name a few.

Feel free to google “BMW Takata airbag recall” this will return loads of information!

The worrying fact in all of this is the story is old and it has been known about for years, it has been officially linked to about 6 deaths! (so why the delay BMW- cost maybe?)

Second Contact

Pretty scared for mine and other peoples safety in my car i got straight on the phone, this time to the customer support number who told me.. (yes you guessed it)

“just as a precaution measure we are replacing the airbag and due to parts shortage this cant be done till January 2015”

The person on the phone went on to tell me that the car is safe and its not the same part. (ohh really?)

I wouldn’t stop there this time.. i got on the phone to another BMW dealer and this time the mechanic/parts guy (yep i went past everyone else) told me on the phone the part in my car is “Takata” and that it will be the same recall as has been known about for years.

Third and final contact

Customer support email, whats even funny about this contact with BMW is the person sending the emails somewhat shot themselves in the foot they sent out a standard mail merge response email(about the airbag) and then tried to recall the email as i had this in my inbox:

“Recall: Customer Service [SRNUMBER=”

I wont put the full email as it contains my address and cars details but a few quotes from this:

“just as a precaution measure we are replacing the airbag and due to parts shortage this cant be done till January 2015”

“a malfunction cannot indefinitely be ruled out”

The questions we need BMW to answer:

Why so long?

How have they managed to keep this away from the UK press?

If they are “safe” then why the recall..


E46 Airbag Recall Notice

Today i received a rather nice letter from BMW explaining that they are recalling my car due to a faulty passenger airbag, thanks BMW.

Firstly they really don’t get the idea of being discreet, the letter received was a big red bordered letter with “MOTOR VEHICLE RECALL NOTICE” written on it.


Thanks BMW for letting all the neighbors know my car is faulty..

So what are they recalling for?

Well the reason given on letter summed it up in a technical way:

“it has been established that, as a result of long term influences in areas with a high level of air humidity, moisture may penetrate the housing of the gas generator of the front passenger airbag”

What does this mean?

Well its possible the airbag could just go off/ if it went off it would tear and possibly cause injury to the passenger.

Here is what BMW say via press release: Link

Will be call my local BMW dealer to find out more on Monday

E90 Disable idrive disclaimer message

You know how annoying this screen is..

“attention use this system only when traffic conditions permit….”

BMW do this to cover themselves.. and im now going to show you how to turn it off. (im assuming you already have coding experience and know how to code modules)

You will need to change one parameter in the CIC module.. do a search on this module for “LEGAL_DISCLAIMER_TIME”

You need to change from: “ld_mit_timeout” and code “kein_ld” instead

This will prevent the screen from coming up when the idrive system starts up


Random E46 Convertible alarm!

About 6 months ago i started having fairly frequent random alarm triggers, very random.

Initially i assumed it was because i parked with the roof down sometimes.. but it started happening with the roof closed.

I had read on the internet that sometimes the under bonnet sensor/switch goes and being a cheap part was the most likely culprit. I went to the local BMW dealer and got a new switch (£12) fitted it and few days went by with no alarm.. finally fixed.. (or so i thought)

E46 Alarm switch


About a week later it started happening again! quite embarrassing for me now both my neighbours and my work were getting annoyed at the loud beep beep beep coming from my car. I frantically tried to research all the common problems and even rang up BMW for help neither came up with much.

I approached this from a technical point of view and quickly realised (after giving the car a good shake from outside) it was the internal alarm causing the problem. Now the internal alarm is microwave technology so my suspicions fell to this.

To turn off the internal movement sensor you can:

  • Press the lock button twice and this should flash the red light under the mirror for longer confirming this has been done

Few weeks went by (with no alarm going off) and my problem was “sorted” i got fairly busy at work so i sort of ignored this for a bit.

But one lazy Saturday i decided to try and fix the actual problem i got into the car, put roof down (shades on) and went to the local shop got a paper and drove back, i parked up at my house and locked the car (almost instantly the alarm triggered as i walked away to get a drink) hmm that’s odd.. the one time i didn’t double lock recently it triggers straight away.

I pondered this stood next to my car for a bit (think my neighbours thought i was mental) it suddenly occurred to me what i did was chuck the change from the paper into the centre cup holder slot.. surely this couldn’t trigger it?

I removed the change from car.. locked it and all was well.. suddenly everything for me clicked into place (the microwave sensor, the change and the fact i had replaced the centre storage with the cup holder 6 months ago!)

For next few weeks and even months.. i made sure i didn’t put any change or anything shiny in the centre cup holder and im happy to say my alarm hasn’t gone off since! (touch wood)