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.
- Replacing all fuses is cheap insurance against electrical failure.
- Bosch rebuilds are the only ones to consider.
- BMW dealers often have the best prices under their factory
- Reversing wires on front turn signals can result in working
turn indicators but no dash indicators.
- Erratic gauges can often be traced to a bad ground, either
on the instrument cluster itself or on the engine to chassis
- Belts tightened too much destroy the water pump. Tighten
only enough to run the alternator.
- If you run a 32/36 Weber conversion, using the stock air
cleaner with and adapter can result in increased drivability.
- 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.
- Never install driving lights without using a relay. Wiring
damage and fires can often result.
- Increased offset wheels are hard on bearings. Service them
- For better handling, cheap 320i rims can be used. 325 alloys
are a good bet for a cheap "+1" conversion.
- A 320i radiator is as good or better than the 2002 part, is
lighter and the conversion may cost less than the 2002 radiator
- If your 2002 runs hot, and the radiator is more than 2 years
old, replace it.
- Never ignore a bad driveshaft coupling (Guibo). To do so can
destroy the transmission case.
- 320i rear drum brakes will bolt onto a 2002 for much
- Braided metal brake lines are more durable and perform better .
- Do not resurface a bad brake disc. Replace it.
- Use of non-original rear brake linings may result in a
parking brake which cannot be adjusted.
- Check exhaust manifold studs regularly. The front stud seals
an oil passage and its loss can cause fires and sudden engine
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- BMW OEM exhaust systems are the longest lasting and the most
quiet you will find.
- Do not discard the plastic cover when making door repairs.
Its job is to keep water out of the car.
- To restore smooth acceleration action, clean grit from under
the pedals, lube the ball mounts and replace the nylon bushing on
the accelerator rod.
- Check shifter mount bolts regularly. Loose bolts can cause
noise and difficult shifting.
- Rebuilding a shifter with new springs and bushings results
in much better shifting.
- Re-using gaskets is false economy.
- Using headers without a rear mount usually results in
premature flange failure.
- Rebuilding a brake caliper without sleeving is a waste of
time. Buying new units is a better bet.
- Try changing brands of oil if your 2002 is using oil (!!?? - Ed)
- Tailpipe smoke on deceleration usually means valve seal problems.
- The 320i can be a cheap source of Recaro seats for your 2002.
- Drain your speedo cable. It collects water.
- The factory made the best shop manual. It has lots of
pictures. (If you can get one - Ed)
- To prevent rust, clear grit from under the front guards,
especially on top of the turn indicators and from the trailing
- 2002s run fine on unleaded fuel (Not!!! -Ed).
- 2002 aluminium
trim is expensive, but may be refinished more cheaply.
- Use BMW filters.
- Change brake fluid at least annually.
- Use BMW anti-freeze; use distilled water for batteries and
- BMW no longer makes a 2002 battery that fits.
- Use tool handle dip on metal moulding clips to prevent rust.
- Use compressed air to blow moisture from behind trim.
- Change rubber fuel lines at the first sign of aging.
- Use the Bosch blue coil.
- Consider changing to an electronic ignition.
- 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)
- Use the metal or nylon shift boot retainer. The styrene
plastic style breaks.
- There is
a lot of room for stereo gear under the back seat.
- If a lock must be replaced, a locksmith can re-key it to
match the others.
- Shift levers are available in black or chrome and will interchange.
- If radio reception is poor, try replacing the antenna. They
deteriorate with age.
- When an electric switch fails, try cleaning the contacts
- Remove the bumbers and clean behind them annually.
- Repco Metal Master brake pads work well.
- Aluminium trim can sometimes be revived with polishing paper
and a buffer with a wool pad.
- Grilles are easier to clean when they are off the car.
- A smaller diameter steering wheel gives a quicker steering feel.
- 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.)
- An in-line fuel filter can be spliced into a broken fuel
line to limp home.
- Even without a ``road kit'', at least carry fuel filters.
- Don't slam doors. It's hard on door checks and windows.
- Broken rivets cause most window mechanism failures. Mercedes
sells a repair rivet.
- Not replacing broken door checks can cause jammed or broken windows.
- A 530i (or equivalent) starter will give you a lot more
- 530i master cylinders give better stopping.
- Check floor pans carefully. BMW undercoating can hide a lot of rust.
- Tail light gaskets are a frequent cause of boot leaks.
- Check the air pressure in your spare. Top it well up.
- Bellows-style shift boots last longer than the fake leather type.
- Clean out the pedal box. Check for rust and debris and enjoy
smoother pedal action.
- If the transmission must be removed, put in a new clutch disc
- it's cheap insurance.
- A good tight four speed can use ATF for easier shifting.
- Use genuine BMW Guibo couplings.
- Shop for prices; even dealer prices can vary. Use Club discounts.
- Buy 2002 parts you may need now. Some parts may be NLA by the
time you need them.
- Use automotive grade hardware. You'll be thankful later.
- 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.
- Rotary compressors give much improved airconditioner performance.
- New BMW badges are a cheap way to spruce up the appearance of
- Black spark-plug wire can replace discoloured "chrome" window
- 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.
- Do not substitute anything else for fuel line. Keep some BMW
fuel line in stock at all times.
- Use DOT 4 brake fluid.
- Before considering expensive suspension work, consider a full
stock rebuild. It's amazing how well a perfectly stock 2002 will
- Adjust your steering box to eliminate "play"; the workshop
manual shows how.
- An upholstery shop can replace the rotted cardboard on
otherwise good door panels.
- Quartz stop light bulbs can prevent rear-end collisions.
- Dim taillights can be caused by corroded reflectors.
- If used hard, 10,000 miles (16,000 km) is not too often to
- You don't want dual carburettors on your street car. Trust me
(says Scott Chamberlain - Ed).
- If your 2002 wears a bra, put soft cloth scraps under the
hooks to prevent scratching.
- For best stereo performance, use large wire. Many systems are
comprimised by thin, cheap wiring.
- Short springs seriously compromise the streetability of a 2002.
- A 320i differential can be adapted to a 2002 to get access to
the much more prevalent slip differentials.
- Not driving a 2002 is the worst thing you can do to it.
- Remove the battery for long-term storage.
- Use WD40 to displace water in bonnet, door and bootlid egde seams.
- Always wave to other 2002 owners.
- 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.
- If you have a sunroof, reroute the drain hoses. The factory
may have routed them into the rocker panels.
- 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
- Until 1974, even the 12-fuse cars didn't have a fuse for high
beam. See 103 above.
- 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.
- Chrome bumper cars: check the insides of the bumpers
periodically for rust.
- 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.
- Reflectors that have gone bad in tail and parking lights can
be revived with aluminium foil.
- Use anti-sieze paste on any threaded fitting exposed to
weather or heat.
- '72 and later cars with a stalk-mounted wiper switch can be
retrofitted with interval wiper controls from a 320i.
- Pre-'72 cars have a flimsy right-hand engine mount. Inspect
it now and replace it with the later style having a welded cross
- 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.
- If you have a '76, inspect the front floors carefully for
rust. For some reason, the '76 cars are more prone to rust than
- Testors makes a blue model aircraft paint that's perfect for
repainting weathered metal BMW roundels. Thin the paint to
eliminate brush marks.
- 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.
- Same goes for carpeting - use the unworn back seat carpet
from a parts car to repair the front.
- Most 2002 factory colours can be formulated in urethane paint
which lasts a lot longer than factory enamel.
- 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.
- 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''.
- 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
- 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.
- A leaking master cylinder can cause the driver's side frame
rail to rust out under the driver's seat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A scissor-type jack is far more efficient and safer than the
one-legged unit supplied by BMW.
- Don't ever lift or jack a 2002 by the rocker panel jacking
points. They're probably rust and weak by now. Use the
- Lubricate the windshield wiper linkage periodically.
- Always carry a fire extinguisher - in a location where you
can reach it quickly.
- You can retrofit inertia reel seat belts to pre-'73 2002s.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- If you normally park your car on an incline, make sure the
door drain holes are clear.
- 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
- 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.
- A sloppy shift lever can be rebuilt for about $40 worth of
parts and a few hours time.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A group 26R battery fits a 2002 just fine and usually has a
higher CCA rating than an equivalent group 42 battery.
- Erratic electrical accessory problems can be caused by a
deteriorated or broken battery-to-body strap.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- A thumping or soft banging sound coming from the rear of the
car may be loose or worn upper rear shock absorber mounts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.