I bought my car used, with 123,000 miles on it and it has driven pretty well. It has survived track days, autocrosses, and daily driving in Atlanta.
Over the last two years though, I noticed two things:
The car felt a lot like a go-kart
Leaving garages or hitting speed bumps would sometimes bottom out the vehicle if I did not let the suspension rest.
Debating Between Coilovers and Stock Spring, Struts
I debated over buying a set of coilovers, Bimmeworld.com sells and supports ISC coilovers, they have a review in e46fanatics of surviving 5 years of heavy track use. And they’d be height, damper, and preload adjustable. And they are a Chinese import so they were the same price as…
What I went with, Koni Special Actives (formerly FSDs). I decided to go with these because, despite a willingness to track my car, mostly drive on streets. Tirerack has a great analysis of the special Active’s too, where they performed as well as the Koni Sports (a known good option), and were hypothesized to perform even better.
I also kept the stock springs, which had no signs of damage, partially because of ride height concerns. Having the factory ‘sport’ package means understanding that new springs will lower the car 3″ intimidating, but also unclear. And, performance wise, I just want that stock feel.
So, over Christmas, my shop mechanic (my father) and I bonded installing a new suspension. A task we’d done before on my 1989 Mazda RX-7 and he had done on his 1974 260z and 1999 Nissan Maxima. In all, the most of the work in the rear was removing the carpet — seriously, it took about 20 minutes otherwise bc they aren’t coilovers – and probably about 2 hours on the fronts (at a calm pace).
Based off of some suggestions, I spent a little extra on common wear items and some reeforcement plates. The stock sway bar end links that connect to the shocks are plastic and have a rubber boot; so the upgrade to a metal joint, an HD rod, and fresh rubber was obvious. The front and rear, but especially the rear strut mounts are known to wear out at the bushing, so I upgraded the rears to an American made aluminum and poly mount. The front strut sheet metal is also a known weak point – which I’ve countered on the front and rear with strut braces – but now I added steel reinforcement plates, basically big washers.
Well, I’m writing this post, and based off my introduction, you can probably already guess, but,
new struts are one of the best investments for a used car.
I say that, and even though I knew it from a similar experience in the RX-7; we start driving a new to us car and it feels okay, then it degrades slowly, but without objective ways to know it (oil leaking out of a strut, always bottoming out) it’s hard to know how much of an improvement it will be.
e46fanatics thinks that the stock 330i Sach’s struts start showing their age before 50k miles. And, on dis-assembly, at 170k miles, my rears were shot and running on the bump stops; the fronts were somewhat alive in those regards.
Now, my car doesn’t bottom out when leaving the parking garage bumps. It doesn’t squat when I accelerate. It shifts more smoothly. And it definitely corners at speeds better. And it feels a little bit less like a go-kart.
My girlfriend recently purchased a new personal laptop – on a budget. But!, she didn’t follow my #1 piece of advice, “Make Sure It Has An SSD”
Well, on day 1 of using it, it was already untenable; it took 60s to launch Google Chrome. It took over a minute to boot – and you had to wait for the start menu to load when it did.
She returned it, said, the Best Buy person knew immediately what she was talking about when she said it was slow, and did recommend the similar model, except with the SSD this time.
This is not my first experience with this; My parents suffer through the same thing. Do they find it frustrating? Most of the time. Do they take my advice to get an SSD? nope, too much hassle.
This leaves me wondering; if, over the last 5 years, I’ve seen this happen with immediate connections, if that budget laptop was brand new from Best Buy (and advertised), there must be people who do not return the slow laptop, who do not upgrade to an SSD. Do they just think it’s the current state of computing for Chrome to take 60s to start? Do they think computers are slower today than they were 10-15 years ago?(because apps have swollen because developers think the baseline is ssd? and ram is plentiful)
I talked this over at work – a technology. Of course, we’ve all been working on laptops (mostly Macbook Pros or Airs) over the last decade; we mostly launch things like Chrome and IDs, and search every file in a project all of the time — so we’ve mostly had SSDs. Some of us have a desktop rig at home – and even then, if it’s not an SSD it’s a 7200rpm, or faster, hard drive.
Protip, buy an ssd.
There are countless youtube videos timing the same hardware with different storage types