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'95 Hunter Green LS 5-Speed
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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Well...I think I may have saved myself $400.

So the reason I bought new struts is there's been a pop from the front left ever since I got her, and I thought it was a blown strut. I've had enough cars with blown shocks to know what a failing one sounds like. But last night, it occurred to me that maybe the pop is just a loose strut top nut. Sure enough, it was very loose. Torqued it down to spec, and she rode smooth as a baby's bottom all the way to work this morning...
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 · (Edited)
So now that the car's basically running and driving exactly as it should, I can assess it from the standpoint of how it compares to my previous car, a 5-speed 2002 BMW 330i, which I owned and daily-drove for almost 7 years:

E46 wins:
  • Much faster. Effortless passing power from pretty much anywhere in the rev range.
  • Better ride/handling tradeoff. Felt more planted in general, but the ride remained supple.
  • Better chassis balance. The MX-6 feels quite nose-heavy (as expected) vs. the 50-50 BMW.
  • More solid all-of-a-piece feel.
  • Better headlights. The OEM xenons lit up the road with a nice sharp cutoff.
  • Better interior materials and quality. Very little cheap plastic.
  • Better parts availability. Most anything you want is still being produced, and junkyards are FULL of E46s.
  • Flawless driving position. Enough room exactly where you want it, and everything fell to hand immediately.
  • Better sound system out of the box. The factory 10-speaker H/K system was wonderful.
  • More "mature" look and feel to non-car folks than the more youthful-appearing MX-6.
MX-6 wins:
  • Prettier, obviously. I've performed more parking lot "turnarounds" with the MX-6 than I did with the E46.
  • It actually sounds nicer. As nice as the BMW's silky inline-6 sounded, I actually prefer the dulcet tones of the MX-6's smooth V6.
  • Better shifter and clutch. The BMW suffered from common shift detent pin issues and was always hard to launch smoothly, even after the CDV delete.
  • Smells nicer inside. The MX-6 has a nostalgic "90s Japanese car" interior smell vs. the E46's classic BMW "crayon" scent.
  • More comfortable ride. The nose-heavy configuration also helps the car feel more stable at speed.
  • Better HVAC controls. Hated the E46's mass of chiclet buttons.
  • If you can source them, most parts are cheaper.
  • More reliable basic engine. The KL does have its trouble spots (distributor!), but at least I don't have to worry about chronic oil consumption b/c of poorly-designed oil control rings or an overly-complicated CCV, or a plastic cooling system that will randomly burst, etc.
So the bottom line is that as much as I loved the E46 for what it was, I've really fallen for the MX-6 for what it is as well. It'll never feel as balanced or bank-vault solid as the E46, and that's fine. It's a lovely, rare, comfortable sports coupe, and it's a darn good one. I plan to enjoy it as such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
3 quarts of Red Line GL-4 75W-90 into the trans last night:
Liquid Bottle Fluid Ingredient Bottle cap


Also replaced the reverse switch:
Automotive fuel system Motor vehicle Gas Auto part Automotive exterior


I forgot the copper washer initially, and it was really hard to get the shifter OUT of reverse, b/c of course the switch was getting hung up on the reverse detent in the transmission. Copper washer in, proper clearances established, and we're all good. In my experience, it takes a little while for the Red Line to really work its magic, but already the shifts feel smoother.

The fact that only about 1.5-2 quarts came out might have something to do with it, though:
Fluid Liquid Gas Serveware Automotive tire


At least there are no metal shavings...
 

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Sounds like you are really coming around to the MX-6 side. You are right about the stable speed and the railroad like tracking ability. The layout and contouring of the dash is excellent too, and how it recedes away from you. I was considering an Audi TT for quite a while, as I find the shape and detailing wonderful. However the dash is one of those straight vertical ones, and the one reason I did not buy one of those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
Part 2:

Car Motor vehicle Vehicle Steering part Gear shift
Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Steering part Gear shift
Speedometer Vehicle Odometer Tachometer Gauge
Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Seat belt Car seat cover
Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Car seat cover Automotive design
Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Car seat cover Automotive design
Car Vehicle Automotive tail & brake light Automotive lighting Motor vehicle
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Car Motor vehicle Hood Automotive design Automotive air manifold
Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design Hood


In other news, the shifts have definitely smoothed out. It's like butter now. Very nice.

Next up: Motor mounts and continuing my stereo system build. The header piece at the top of the dash is pretty easy to pop out, and I should be able to enlarge the holes for better tweeters. We'll see.

Sounds like you are really coming around to the MX-6 side. You are right about the stable speed and the railroad like tracking ability. The layout and contouring of the dash is excellent too, and how it recedes away from you. I was considering an Audi TT for quite a while, as I find the shape and detailing wonderful. However the dash is one of those straight vertical ones, and the one reason I did not buy one of those.
I mean, I am---for what it is. Stock for stock, the E46 will drive circles around the MX-6, but that's expected as they're built on completely different architectures at totally different (when new) price points.

Doesn't mean the MX-6 doesn't have an equal amount of appeal; I just had to slightly re-calibrate my reasons for enjoying a car as I'm experiencing it. It helps that it's basically driving perfectly well at the moment. Gives me a good baseline.
 

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It was given the name "poor mans Porsche" in some of the media publications, which is fair and unfair. Fair because to come up with the idea it needs to be compared to a Porsche is complimentary. Unfair because it is not meant to have the muscle of the much more expensive cars. One summary said when driving the MX-6, I don't imagine myself driving a F! race car. But I do imagine I am driving the pace car for an F1 race. That seems to be about right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
It was given the name "poor mans Porsche" in some of the media publications, which is fair and unfair. Fair because to come up with the idea it needs to be compared to a Porsche is complimentary. Unfair because it is not meant to have the muscle of the much more expensive cars. One summary said when driving the MX-6, I don't imagine myself driving a F1 race car. But I do imagine I am driving the pace car for an F1 race. That seems to be about right.
What media publications said that? The comparison is ludicrous... The MX-6 is a family sedan (626) with a sexy body; Porsches of the era were bespoke sports cars with much more sophisticated performance and handling than the MX-6 featured.

Don't get me wrong; I love my MX-6 for what it is—a stunning shape with some athletic ability—but a Porsche (or BMW for that matter) it ain't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
Used my Motive power bleeder to flush the entire hydraulic system last night. Went pretty smoothly.

I LOVE the fact that Mazda uses a simple spring setup rather than a stupid mini brake drum system for the parking brakes.
Automotive tire Rim Bicycle part Motor vehicle Automotive exterior


For the Motive adapter, I used an 1100 (the European model) with some tape around the reservoir. The diameter matches, but the thread pitch is slightly off. The tape allowed me to snug it down. It held 14-15 psi just fine.
Automotive lighting Gas Auto part Automotive tire Automotive exterior
Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Gas
Gauge Measuring instrument Scale Gas Auto part
Motor vehicle Automotive design Automotive tire Electrical wiring Gas


The fluid that came out of the calipers wasn't too bad, but the stuff that emerged from the clutch release cylinder was the darkest brake fluid I'd ever seen. I'm sure it's happier now that it's got clean, fresh fluid flowing through it. And it was nice to be able to reach it from the top of the engine bay!
 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
So we had a slight change of plans on Sunday morning, and Megumi was called into action for her first real road trip.

I'm pleased to report that she didn't miss a beat over the course of 1,000+ miles and 3 days of travel. Rock-solid on the highway, and she even averaged nearly 29 mpg full of bags, presents and a kid.

Small nitpick: I do wish the cruise control had a "Cancel" button. There were many times when I just wanted to take over throttle control without having to either 1) tap the brakes or 2) cycle the whole system via the button on the dash. But it's really not THAT big of a deal.

Pics below taken at a rest stop off I40 on the NC/TN border:
Wheel Automotive parking light Tire Car Vehicle
Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Vehicle registration plate
 

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So we had a slight change of plans on Sunday morning, and Megumi was called into action for her first real road trip.

I'm pleased to report that she didn't miss a beat over the course of 1,000+ miles and 3 days of travel. Rock-solid on the highway, and she even averaged nearly 29 mpg full of bags, presents and a kid.

Small nitpick: I do wish the cruise control had a "Cancel" button. There were many times when I just wanted to take over throttle control without having to either 1) tap the brakes or 2) cycle the whole system via the button on the dash. But it's really not THAT big of a deal.

Pics below taken at a rest stop off I40 on the NC/TN border:
View attachment 15077 View attachment 15078
You can just tap the clutch pedal also and that will disengage the cruise control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
It's not a family sedan ! lol
It is underneath! A nice family sedan—what with independent rear suspension and discs all around—but at the end of the day, it's a nose-heavy FWD car, unlike competitors like the 240SX, let alone Porsches...

You can just tap the clutch pedal also and that will disengage the cruise control.
Yeah but that still jerks the driveline. I just want to be able to press "Cancel" on the steering wheel and smoothly retake control. Interestingly, our 2010 Mazda5 has the exact setup I want:
Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive design Steering part
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
Old vs. new.

Automotive tire Tread Audio equipment Alloy wheel Rim

Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Automotive tire Hood Automotive design


No substitute for proper component tweeters + mids + crossover amp, but it'll do for now. One of the previous owners installed Infinity Reference 5x7s in the rear deck, and they were overpowering the front paper cones, so these 6x8s center the sound stage front-to-back. Perfect fit, too. So satisfying to have all the tools I need to do the job right:
Tire Hood Automotive tire Wheel Automotive lighting


(ratcheting crimper + heat-shrink tubing)

Hoping to get to the struts this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
So even though I fixed the clunk from the left front by tightening down the strut nut, I had all the parts, and rather than return everything, I just decided to install it all anyway.
Table Machine tool Engineering Gas Electrical wiring


The fronts were easy, but the rears fought me, between the parking brake assembly in the way of the lower strut mount thru bolt, or the fact that I couldn't get a torque wrench on the top nuts via the trunk and had to remove the rear deck trim...
Automotive lighting Hood Vehicle Automotive tire Automotive design


Once they were off the car, though, actually swapping over the spring was the easy part. I did have to put the upper hooks of the spring compressors on the mount temporarily for the front struts.
Automotive tire Art Gas Auto part Bicycle part


Staying organized is key.
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I couldn't find replacement spring pads anywhere, so I just reconditioned the rubber as best I could. They were in decent shape anyway.
Font Fashion accessory Auto part Metal Event


Left front in!
Coil spring Automotive tire Gas Auto part Electricity


Driving-wise, it's night and day. Other than the balance and the power, the car feels pretty darn close to my E46 now. No fooling. It's firm yet supple and fully buttoned down. My "test case" on my commute was an bridge expansion joint, where the car used to kind of float and jog sideways a bit, and now it just absorbs the joint without any upset at all. Just takes it in stride.

Next up: Valve cover and intake gaskets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
Replaced the intake manifold, valve cover and throttle body gaskets this weekend.
Wood Eyewear Art Electrical wiring Table


I spent most of Saturday afternoon getting the manifold off and reconditioned.
Motor vehicle Vehicle Automotive design Car Automotive fuel system


Despite its reputation, the "bitch bolt" on the back of the manifold really wasn't that hard. A 12mm deep socket made quick work of it. I was pleased that I only had to disconnect 2 hoses coming off the back of the manifold. The rest came with the manifold.
Gas Motor vehicle Automotive fuel system Engineering Auto part


I replaced all the vacuum lines with silicone hoses.
Electrical wiring Wood Cable Gas Auto part


The vacuum reservoirs and lines under the manifold were hard as a rock, and of course I broke both nipples off the check valve, and one of them off one of the reservoirs in the process of removing everything. The guys at O'Reilly's found me a universal check valve, and I'm only running one reservoir until I can source another.
Motor vehicle Gas Auto part Automotive exterior Nut


Got the valve covers and hardware off and all cleaned up.
Automotive tire Gas Audio equipment Auto part Font


Valve covers back on (w/RTV sealant in the corners) and everything torqued to 60 in-lbs per spec.
Motor vehicle Hood Automotive design Automotive exterior Vehicle


Everything else went back together just fine. Took her for a test drive, and she drives perfectly. Idle seems a bit more stable now (though I need to bring it up a bit; it's around 550 rpm). Bonus engine bay pic:
Motor vehicle Automotive fuel system Automotive design Vehicle Automotive air manifold


Next up: LED lights for the dash are on their way, and I have a new antenna mast to hopefully get the power antenna working.
 

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The Sylvania headlight restoration kit worked AWESOME. $20 on Amazon, 30 minutes start to finish. Very pleased with the results.
View attachment 14868

Before:
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And after:
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Something I need to do.....
Love all the work you've done.....and the figuring out issues.. Kudos
Is your Air Bag system still working normally..? - and ABS..?
I've had to disable ABS and Air Bag is faulty and beeping often. Unplugged that..!! Ugh..
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Something I need to do.....
Love all the work you've done.....and the figuring out issues.. Kudos
Is your Air Bag system still working normally..? - and ABS..?
I've had to disable ABS and Air Bag is faulty and beeping often. Unplugged that..!! Ugh..
Thanks! It's a labor of love. She treats me really well, so I hope the feeling is mutual...

Air bag system is still working fine as far as I know. No warning lights of any kind.

Mine wasn't optioned with ABS. Slightly less safe (I guess), but less complicated and less to go wrong.
 
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