161 Tips for 2002 Owners

The BMW Car Club of America has published two accumulated "tech tips" articles for the '02, in Sept 93 by Scott Chamberlain and Oct 94 by Michael Self. Here are the 160-odd tech tips in one place so you can use your browser's search capability to search for keywords. The articles came with a guarantee that at least one tip will be useful to an '02 owner in the next 12 months. So, here's part one.

  1. Replacing all fuses is cheap insurance against electrical failure.
  2. Bosch rebuilds are the only ones to consider.
  3. BMW dealers often have the best prices under their factory rebuilt program.
  4. Reversing wires on front turn signals can result in working turn indicators but no dash indicators.
  5. Erratic gauges can often be traced to a bad ground, either on the instrument cluster itself or on the engine to chassis strap.
  6. Belts tightened too much destroy the water pump. Tighten only enough to run the alternator.
  7. If you run a 32/36 Weber conversion, using the stock air cleaner with and adapter can result in increased drivability.
  8. Replacing the front lower door moulding plastic clip with the metal retainer used on the other end of the moulding helps prevent the door trim from falling off when opening the door.
  9. Never install driving lights without using a relay. Wiring damage and fires can often result.
  10. Increased offset wheels are hard on bearings. Service them more often.
  11. For better handling, cheap 320i rims can be used. 325 alloys are a good bet for a cheap "+1" conversion.
  12. A 320i radiator is as good or better than the 2002 part, is lighter and the conversion may cost less than the 2002 radiator alone.
  13. If your 2002 runs hot, and the radiator is more than 2 years old, replace it.
  14. Never ignore a bad driveshaft coupling (Guibo). To do so can destroy the transmission case.
  15. 320i rear drum brakes will bolt onto a 2002 for much improved braking.
  16. Braided metal brake lines are more durable and perform better .
  17. Do not resurface a bad brake disc. Replace it.
  18. Use of non-original rear brake linings may result in a parking brake which cannot be adjusted.
  19. Check exhaust manifold studs regularly. The front stud seals an oil passage and its loss can cause fires and sudden engine failure.
  20. When buying a 2002, check for excess engine movement. More than mild vibration may indicate a broken frame mount. It can be fixed, but is quite a job.
  21. Check the rear subframe regularly. They have been known to rust through even on otherwise rust-free cars. This can lead to a big, dirty job and parts are getting hard to find.
  22. To get drag-race style acceleration from a 2002, use the gears from a 1976, but be prepared for lots of noise at cruising speed (!!?? - Ed)
  23. BMW OEM exhaust systems are the longest lasting and the most quiet you will find.
  24. Do not discard the plastic cover when making door repairs. Its job is to keep water out of the car.
  25. To restore smooth acceleration action, clean grit from under the pedals, lube the ball mounts and replace the nylon bushing on the accelerator rod.
  26. Check shifter mount bolts regularly. Loose bolts can cause noise and difficult shifting.
  27. Rebuilding a shifter with new springs and bushings results in much better shifting.
  28. Re-using gaskets is false economy.
  29. Using headers without a rear mount usually results in premature flange failure.
  30. Rebuilding a brake caliper without sleeving is a waste of time. Buying new units is a better bet.
  31. Try changing brands of oil if your 2002 is using oil (!!?? - Ed)
  32. Tailpipe smoke on deceleration usually means valve seal problems.
  33. The 320i can be a cheap source of Recaro seats for your 2002.
  34. Drain your speedo cable. It collects water.
  35. The factory made the best shop manual. It has lots of pictures. (If you can get one - Ed)
  36. To prevent rust, clear grit from under the front guards, especially on top of the turn indicators and from the trailing edge.
  37. 2002s run fine on unleaded fuel (Not!!! -Ed).
  38. 2002 aluminium trim is expensive, but may be refinished more cheaply.
  39. Use BMW filters.
  40. Change brake fluid at least annually.
  41. Use BMW anti-freeze; use distilled water for batteries and cooling systems.
  42. BMW no longer makes a 2002 battery that fits.
  43. Use tool handle dip on metal moulding clips to prevent rust.
  44. Use compressed air to blow moisture from behind trim.
  45. Change rubber fuel lines at the first sign of aging.
  46. Use the Bosch blue coil.
  47. Consider changing to an electronic ignition.
  48. The adapter kit for a late Chrysler New Yorker will allow the mounting of a DIN-style radio in a 2002 console. (I thought this one particularly useful - Ed. J)
  49. Use the metal or nylon shift boot retainer. The styrene plastic style breaks.
  50. There is a lot of room for stereo gear under the back seat.
  51. If a lock must be replaced, a locksmith can re-key it to match the others.
  52. Shift levers are available in black or chrome and will interchange.
  53. If radio reception is poor, try replacing the antenna. They deteriorate with age.
  54. When an electric switch fails, try cleaning the contacts before replacing.
  55. Remove the bumbers and clean behind them annually.
  56. Repco Metal Master brake pads work well.
  57. Aluminium trim can sometimes be revived with polishing paper and a buffer with a wool pad.
  58. Grilles are easier to clean when they are off the car.
  59. A smaller diameter steering wheel gives a quicker steering feel.
  60. On long trips, carry a ``road kit'' including the following: oil sender; fuel hose; assorted clamps; fuel filter(s); fuses and bulbs; thermostat; oil and water; water pump; alternator; starter; belts and hoses; gaffer tape; wire; gasket in a tube; coat hanger; distributor tune-up parts. (It may be overkill, but then Ive never been stuck, either.) (Got any room left for passengers or luggage - Ed.)
  61. An in-line fuel filter can be spliced into a broken fuel line to limp home.
  62. Even without a ``road kit'', at least carry fuel filters.
  63. Don't slam doors. It's hard on door checks and windows.
  64. Broken rivets cause most window mechanism failures. Mercedes sells a repair rivet.
  65. Not replacing broken door checks can cause jammed or broken windows.
  66. A 530i (or equivalent) starter will give you a lot more starting torque.
  67. 530i master cylinders give better stopping.
  68. Check floor pans carefully. BMW undercoating can hide a lot of rust.
  69. Tail light gaskets are a frequent cause of boot leaks.
  70. Check the air pressure in your spare. Top it well up.
  71. Bellows-style shift boots last longer than the fake leather type.
  72. Clean out the pedal box. Check for rust and debris and enjoy smoother pedal action.
  73. If the transmission must be removed, put in a new clutch disc - it's cheap insurance.
  74. A good tight four speed can use ATF for easier shifting.
  75. Use genuine BMW Guibo couplings.
  76. Shop for prices; even dealer prices can vary. Use Club discounts.
  77. Buy 2002 parts you may need now. Some parts may be NLA by the time you need them.
  78. Use automotive grade hardware. You'll be thankful later.
  79. 2002s have little tyre clearance: 185/70x13, 205/60x13 and 195/50x15 are about as far as you can go, but there is much variance between individual cars and brands of wheels and tyres.
  80. Rotary compressors give much improved airconditioner performance.
  81. New BMW badges are a cheap way to spruce up the appearance of your 2002.
  82. Black spark-plug wire can replace discoloured "chrome" window beading.
  83. The fuel injection system from a 318i can be adapted to a 2002, giving better relaibility and economy than carburettors and less trouble and expense than the tii system.
  84. Do not substitute anything else for fuel line. Keep some BMW fuel line in stock at all times.
  85. Use DOT 4 brake fluid.
  86. Before considering expensive suspension work, consider a full stock rebuild. It's amazing how well a perfectly stock 2002 will handle.
  87. Adjust your steering box to eliminate "play"; the workshop manual shows how.
  88. An upholstery shop can replace the rotted cardboard on otherwise good door panels.
  89. Quartz stop light bulbs can prevent rear-end collisions.
  90. Dim taillights can be caused by corroded reflectors.
  91. If used hard, 10,000 miles (16,000 km) is not too often to adjust valves.
  92. You don't want dual carburettors on your street car. Trust me (says Scott Chamberlain - Ed).
  93. If your 2002 wears a bra, put soft cloth scraps under the hooks to prevent scratching.
  94. For best stereo performance, use large wire. Many systems are comprimised by thin, cheap wiring.
  95. Short springs seriously compromise the streetability of a 2002.
  96. A 320i differential can be adapted to a 2002 to get access to the much more prevalent slip differentials.
  97. Not driving a 2002 is the worst thing you can do to it.
  98. Remove the battery for long-term storage.
  99. Use WD40 to displace water in bonnet, door and bootlid egde seams.
  100. Always wave to other 2002 owners.
  101. The little plastic cap on the end of the door latch (on the door) is what makes the door close easily. If yours is missing, replace it with a short length of plastic or rubber tubing.
  102. If you have a sunroof, reroute the drain hoses. The factory may have routed them into the rocker panels.
  103. Early 2002s with 6-position fuse boxes have unfused headlights. Using the wiring diagram in the owners manual, interpose a fused relay in both the low beam and high beam, circuits. It will save molten wires, and make the lights brighter.
  104. Until 1974, even the 12-fuse cars didn't have a fuse for high beam. See 103 above.
  105. If brake fluid is disappearing from the reservoir and you can't find a leak, check the pedal bucket. A leaking clutch master cylinder will fill it up with fluid, with no exterior leaks. And it holds nearly a pint.
  106. Chrome bumper cars: check the insides of the bumpers periodically for rust.
  107. Use household carpet padding under carpets and under and behind the back seat to lessen road noise. Filling the space under the back seat with foam rubber packing helps too.
  108. Reflectors that have gone bad in tail and parking lights can be revived with aluminium foil.
  109. Use anti-sieze paste on any threaded fitting exposed to weather or heat.
  110. '72 and later cars with a stalk-mounted wiper switch can be retrofitted with interval wiper controls from a 320i.
  111. Pre-'72 cars have a flimsy right-hand engine mount. Inspect it now and replace it with the later style having a welded cross brace.
  112. Any time you have the interior upholstery panels off the doors, clean out the insides, inspect for rust and spray with rustproofing. Do the same for the quarter panels.
  113. If you have a '76, inspect the front floors carefully for rust. For some reason, the '76 cars are more prone to rust than other years.
  114. Testors makes a blue model aircraft paint that's perfect for repainting weathered metal BMW roundels. Thin the paint to eliminate brush marks.
  115. A good upholstery shop can use the material from the (usually) unworn rear seat of a parts car to repair the worn/torn centre section of the driver's seat in your car.
  116. Same goes for carpeting - use the unworn back seat carpet from a parts car to repair the front.
  117. Most 2002 factory colours can be formulated in urethane paint which lasts a lot longer than factory enamel.
  118. Krylon ``dull aluminium'' spray paint is a great match for the silver paint used on both steel and factory alloy 2002 wheels. On the alloy wheels, spray clear urethane over the silver paint.
  119. When draining your cooling system, don't forget to remove the block drain bolt (under the exhaust manifold) and set the heater temperature control to ``hot''.
  120. Next time you have your cooling system drained, take the block drain bolt down to a hardware. There's a commonly available brass petcock which matches the block drain thread. Install with teflon tape.
  121. Lubricate your speedo cable periodically. They're a nuisance to replace. Disconnect at both ends, and squirt lubricant into the speedo end until it runs out the transmission end.
  122. A leaking master cylinder can cause the driver's side frame rail to rust out under the driver's seat.
  123. The next time your fuel tank is nearly empty, unbolt it and remove it from the car to check the tank-to-body seal for deterioration and rust. Replace the original seal with closed cell weatherproofing foam.
  124. There are several different seemingly identical bulbs which will fit 2002 taillights. Make sure you use the one with the highest wattage for best visibility.
  125. Clean out the heater plenum chamber drain hoses regularly (below the base of the windshield, where the wiper motor lives). Prevents rust and water entry.
  126. A baulky heater temperature control lever is often caused by a sticking valve. It can be reomves (but leave the lever attached to the cable), dismantled, cleaned and lubricated.
  127. A scissor-type jack is far more efficient and safer than the one-legged unit supplied by BMW.
  128. Don't ever lift or jack a 2002 by the rocker panel jacking points. They're probably rust and weak by now. Use the subframes.
  129. Lubricate the windshield wiper linkage periodically.
  130. Always carry a fire extinguisher - in a location where you can reach it quickly.
  131. You can retrofit inertia reel seat belts to pre-'73 2002s.
  132. Make your stock driver's seat more comfortable by: raising the front end of the seat track with 6-8mm thick washers and by installing extra padding in the seat back to give your lower back more support.
  133. If the turn signal flasher bulb on the dashboard flashes intermittently but both front and rear turn signals are OK and flash properly, clean or replace the fuse before suspecting the flasher unit itself.
  134. Any reluctant or non-working electrical item should have its fuse checked first. The German cartridge fuses wear out and should be replaced every few years.
  135. Use spray rustproofing in the perimeter seams of the boot and bonnet lids. These two panels invariably rust away around the edges, from the inside out.
  136. Periodically lubricate ther slides and pivot points of the heater control cables under the dash. You don't want to have to replace a broken cable!
  137. If you normally park your car on an incline, make sure the door drain holes are clear.
  138. If your rocker arm shafts have worn so that you can no longer adjust the valves to the proper clearance, any good machine shop can make oversized (0.5-1.0 mm is fine), case-hardened adjusters for a lot less money than the cost of removing the head and replacing the shafts. Take an old one along for use as a pattern.
  139. A constantly-varying idle (both speed and smoothness) points to a vacuum leak. Check to ensure the vacuum advance/retard diaphragm in the distributor doesn't have a leak.
  140. A sloppy shift lever can be rebuilt for about $40 worth of parts and a few hours time.
  141. A driveline vibration occurring in a specific speed range can be caused by a worn or broken rear transmission mount and/or a broken or cracked Guibo. Check them before suspecting a bad driveshaft, centre bearing or rear universal joint.
  142. Periodically peel back the carpets covering the front wheel wells (under the dash, ahead of the doors) down at the bottom to check for rust.
  143. A piece of ribber, rubber-backed carpet cut to fit the boot will help prevent things from sliding around under vigorous cornering (and that's all you do in an '02, isn't it?)
  144. It's also a good idea to pad the sides and back of the boot (pre-'73 models) to prevent migrating objects from denting the quarter and rear panels.
  145. With a little patience, you can remove the lenses from a round taillight housing (note: real 02s only) if you need to replate the chrome rim. Look for a small set screw on the inside of the chrome rib that divides the lens segment. The set screw and sealer hold the lens in place.
  146. Periodically inspect the rubber boots on your rear axle CV joints, particularly if you drive on gravel roads a lot. Temporarily patch a torn or leaking boot with layers of kitchen food wrap secured with tape.
  147. A group 26R battery fits a 2002 just fine and usually has a higher CCA rating than an equivalent group 42 battery.
  148. Erratic electrical accessory problems can be caused by a deteriorated or broken battery-to-body strap.
  149. Once a year, take the battery out, clean the tray with baking soda to neutralise acid, touch up rust spots and replace the battery. There should be an acid-resistive paint available. Pre-74 battery boxes unbolt from the body; later ones are welded in.
  150. A door that is difficult to close properly that isn't missing the little plastic latchbolt cap may have a loose latchplate (the plate bolted to the door frame).
  151. A door lock that's sluggish in cold weather can be lubricated by removing one or both screws that hold the rubber guide wedge on the door. Poke the extension wand of a can of WD-40 through the screw holes and squirt. This saves taking the upholstery panels off just to lubricate the lock.
  152. A dead windshield washer pump can often be resurrected by a careful dismantling, cleaning and lubricating of the motor. And failing that, the washer pump from an older VW or Audi is a perfect replacement.
  153. Periodically check the tightness of your tailight lenses where they meet the bodywork. Loose lens assemblies are prime culprits for water leaks into the boot which will rust out the spare tyre well and/or the fuel tank mounting.
  154. A thumping or soft banging sound coming from the rear of the car may be loose or worn upper rear shock absorber mounts.
  155. The early and late style fuel pumps are interchangeable on all non-tii 2002s; however, they use different thickness insulator blocks and different length pushrods.
  156. If you are fortunate enough to have 2002 factory alloy wheels, coat the mating surfaces of the stainless steel centre caps with anti-sieze compound before installing them. Otherwise, they'll sieze to the aluminium wheels and be damaged when you try to remove them.
  157. If you have alloy 2002 road wheels and a steel spare, be sure to carry a set of steel wheel lug nuts. They don't interchange.
  158. Pre-'74 2002s have very weak rear bumper mounting points. They can be considerably reinforced by cutting two 100x150 mm plates out of 6mm steel and drilling to match the bumper bolt holes. Install between the bumper mounts and the body. Be sure to seal the plates to the body with caulking to prevent rust or leaks.
  159. A good substitute for Armour-All and similar products is made by Dow-Corning. Called 4-Compund, it's a plastics lubricant and sealant and is particularly good on rubber bootlid spoilers. Apply, work it in, then buff excess off.
  160. A failed cold-start relay on tiis can be expensive to replace. Wiring the cold start injector to a small push-button switch on the dashboard can overcome the problem. The injector must operate for at least a second during cranking, and holding the switch for a second or two when starting works every time. It can be an anti-theft trick for those who don't know the switch is there.
  161. The new LED brake light arrays (as used in rear spoilers) will fit inside the rear window. Screwed into the lip of the air vent at the top of the window, with wiring down the C-pillar to the tail light assembly, the array forms a very effective third brake light for 02s.

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