Happy Labor Day to all. It’s an especially fun one for me since I’ve finally completed a project on the 2001 530. But it took an incredible amount of time, I started this project at the beginning of the summer. Here then is the story.
I have wanted to freshen up the 530 bumpers for a while. As described in previous posts, the previous owner had been easy on the car driving-wise but was neglectful in cosmetic matters. There were some dings and scratches on the bumpers, primarily on the rear. And BMW made a M Technic version bumper for my model car, which came stock on the 2003 540i. This bumper just plain looks better. It is sometimes called the “M5 bumper,” but that’s incorrect, the M5 and the M Technic bumpers are different.
As usual with the aftermarket, there was a plethora of choices to weed through. There are many good quality replica kits at there, as well as original equipment (OE) parts. Luckily I was able as usual to tap the wisdom of the crowd via the bimmerfest.com and bimmerforum.com online communities. These owners usually have no shortage of valuable info and strong opinions on which way to go with most any project. Complicating my choice somewhat was my car has park distance control (PDC), which is not an option I would have chosen but one I’ve come to appreciate. There are four sensors in both the front and rear bumpers, and many of the replica kits didn’t accommodate this feature.
I decided to go with the OE BMW kit, for the PDC and the reason I wanted everything to be perfect. Even a small fit problem with a replica kit would bug me, and I figured the build quality would be better. I knew Bavarian Auto sold the OE kit, and they advertised that they matched competitor pricing. I called, and pointed out that Bekkers had a lower price for the same OE kit. BavAuto matched it, and I started getting psyched to get this done. But the adventure was just beginning.
I ordered the kit on June 25th. Part of my ordered shipped right away — some bumper strips and the new projector fog lights. Unfortunately, the main kit was out of stock, and they were sending to GERMANY for it. I wasn’t happy they didn’t tell me this over the phone when I ordered, but figured I’d stay the course. So on July 22nd, the kit is shipped to my body shop (Professional Auto Body in Alexandria, VA) and I drop the car off.
But no! The shop calls to tell me the non-PDC bumper has been sent, with no rear bumper!? I’m pretty frustrated at this point, have to ship the bumper back, and convince customer service the rear was never sent at all. To BavAuto’s credit, they admitted the error and processed a full refund for me, minus the fogs that I kept. But still no bumpers. So I go back to Bekkers.
Call up, order the bumpers but by now wondering what will happen next. Sure enough, Bekkers calls me back a couple of hours later to say they have the front bumper for a car with PDC AND Headlight washers, which my car doesn’t have. Told me I could have the shop fill the holes in where the washers would go, no problem. No way Jose — I’m paying the $$ for OE, everything should be perfect. To Bekkers credit, they did call me with the explanation and after I said no they never processed the order. But I was still dead in the water re bumpers.
Usually dealers are the last place to go for a good price, but at this point I figured I had no other course. I remembered a few years back Pacific BMW in Glendale, CA had aggressively marketed themselves for BMW parts, then pulled back for some reason. I called, and after a few transfers got to the right person, Mark Flores. He found me a Mtech kit with PDC, surprisingly at a lower price than what I paid before.
I wasn’t quite home free — the kit was missing one important piece for the rear, and the bumper strips had to have two additional holes cut into them by the shop. But Mark is going to credit me the cost of the piece I had to buy locally, as soon as I scan my receipt and send to him. Definitely looks like Pacific has decided again to market themselves as a source for OE parts. And they are doing it via Facebook — check out Pacific’s page here.
Next, a new muffler. After getting the new Mtech bumper with the left side cut-out for an exhaust tip, I needed to replace my old muffler. The old one was big, rusty and curved straight down, behind the bumper. Magnaflow had some nice looking ones at very fair prices, and after some online forum research decided on the 14829, big fat single tip design that fit perfectly. Had to go to a Meineke shop on Rt. 1 south of the Walmart to get it done, since the job required some custom welding. Nice job and pretty quick, too.
Finally, I had to do something about the front place. Unfortunately VA is one of the misguided states that require a front plate — what a threat to freedom! ;-) I didn’t spend all that money on my front bumper to then drill some big holes in it for a bulky license bracket. The solution came from Skenedesign, thin brackets that require only two 1/8 inch holes underneath the bumper. The plate doesn’t even touch the front bumper surface.
So there’s the saga. It’s done — but I didn’t think it would take all summer! Check it some pics below. If you’re a BMW owner thinking of going down this road, please contact me directly. I left out some arcane details in the interest of clarity.
Now, what should I do for the M3…
Other stories you might like:
- Good Value Bordeaux — Finally In my last blog post, I made mention of my quest for a good value,...
- Fog Light Bulb Replacement on the E39 M5 This past weekend I swapped out the fog light bulbs in my new (to me)...
- Cosmetic Work on the E46 M3 This past week I took care of some needed items on my 2006 E46 M3....