Most BMW E34s came with the standard chrome trim around the door windows. The M5 and maybe some other trims (540?) came with a shadow line option, which is a matte black finish instead of the chrome.

To purchase the factory matte black trim, the cost is over $500. Many people paint their chrome trim with matte black paint. I found shadowlinetrim.com by chance, which is a vinyl wrap, so I decided to give it a try. It appeared to be more durable than the paint, and a lot cheaper than buying trim. One roll of 3" x 30' vinyl is about $30, and is enough to do the car.

What drove me to rebuild the cylinder head on the BMW was a Rocker Arm failure while on a work assignment in Halifax, NS. I was returning to the apartment from Taekwondo class and ran the car hard in first gear, near redline. As soon as I let off the engine sounded as if it developed an exhaust leak and it idled a bit lumpier than usual. After a quick visual under the hood and the exhaust system, nothing appeared out of place. I remembered reading about Rocker Arm failures on these cars and that it was fairly common as the miles climbed. I removed the valve cover and it was confirmed. Cylinder 1 exhaust Rocker Arm was broken. I considered all the options of having it rebuilt/rebuilding it myself in Halifax, and in the end decided to drive it back to Ottawa on 5 cylinders. When I got home I found that the intake Rocker Arm on Cylinder 1 had broken as well.

April 2010

Tire details: Front 235/45ZR -17 Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec $135.00

Rear 265/40R-17 Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec $164.00

Purchased from Tire Rack

Rear tire against the 215/xx/16 Audi tires

Cleaning up the old wheels. Before

After

Before

After

The front suspension on the BMW has always had issues. At the beginning it was the steering box, which was worn excessively, and replacing it with a rebuilt unit didn't cure the wandering problems. I then changed the tie rods, center link, and idler arm, with quality (sarcasm) Karlyn brand parts (made in China). A few months later the tie rod boots were all torn. I also never got the car aligned after changing those suspension parts. I performed a Macgyver alignment that I was reasonably happy with.

So the plan of attack is this: - Replace worn tie rods with Lemforder brand (OEM) - Replace Thrust Arm Bushings (Upper Control Arm Bushings) with rebuildable spherical bearings (Summit Machine Flex Joints) - Replace Lower Control Arm Bushings with OEM rubber bushings (Lemforder) - After taking said parts off the car the other night, I found the idler arm to be destroyed (Karlyn brand part..). This will be replaced with a Lemforder part. - Alignment!

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