Track Day Pictures

Some snaps from the Brands Hatch track day a while back..

Track Day

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Losing my grip

After a few weeks of being more wary of the rain than a typical London commuter (another story), I’ve finally replaced the remnants of tyre that were covering my rear wheels.

Normally with my other cars this involves choosing a premium brand, having them fitted and driving away all happy and stuck to the road.

This time however I’m performing a little experiment by going with a not so premium brand. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not dodgy remoulds from a bloke in the pub who gets them from someone he knows ‘in the trade’, but they’re not made of pure gold like the top of the range £230 per corner types either.

And seeing as I was feeling all sassy I’ve gone for a slightly lower profile too, mainly as this hugely increases the range of tyres available. The standard size is 255/40/18 on the rear, but these are 255/35/18.

For those who think that’s a very strange date of birth, it’s actually:

Tyre width in mm / side wall height (as a % of the width) /wheel diameter in inches.

Hopefully this blog entry will be useful to the many other M3 owners who wander through forums looking for comments about which tyres are good enough to keep you out of the hedge, but still affordable. (Note that I didn’t say “cheap”. You can’t say that word when talking about owning an M3. About ANYTHING.) Also, if these tyres end up killing me, this post will serve as a very handy “don’t do that” warning to others 🙂

I’ve gone for Nexen N6000 tyres. I know, they’re not well known, and that’s mainly the point. I’m fed up of all the conflicting stories from M3 owners about how they found mid range tyres to be as good as the premium or how the mid range ones made their car feel broken.

Another reason for buying them was the cost for two, fitted was £187. Yup, for the pair. So I got a full alignment whilst I was there. Total cost, £214. That’s less than the price of a single fancy-dan tyre.

Here’s what the internet thinks of my choice:

Nexen review

Picture and more detail from http://www.tyrereviews.co.uk/Tyre/Nexen/N6000.htm

Yes, I know they’re not the best, but at a 3rd of the price of super whizzy tyres it’s worth the experiment so I can at least know for certain that you do get what you pay for when stumping up the cash.

My reasoning is that I don’t care about lifespan, as I only drive the car occasionally and I’m not too fussed about wet handling as I don’t use it in the wet or if I do it’ll just be coming home when caught out in it. Unless I happen to be on a track day when it rains in which case… whahaaaay!

On the short drive home I must say the car felt a little bit more squirmy than before, but then the last set where almost slicks and these ones have actual tread. See…

IMG_0045treadstyled

Also, you’re supposed to let new tyres bed in for a bit until all the release agent (used to get them out of the moulds) has worn off, and to make sure they’ve settled on the rims nicely. Which reminds me.. I didn’t reset the ‘something wrong with one of the wheels’ sensor thingy.

Oh no.. an excuse to go for a drive tomorrow.

I’ll update this blog in a few hundred miles when I’ll know if they’re a bargain or grim reaper catnip.

Seeing sens-or

Being a typical techy with a new toy, I’ve been reading the M3 forums and I came across this one where a lot of people are reporting a noticeable improvement in throttle response and idle after cleaning the MAF. (Mass Airflow Sensor)

http://forums.m3cutters.co.uk/showthread.php?t=12335

And seeing as I’m intending to get a bit more hands on with this car, I thought I’d give it a go.

Of course I had to pay the notorious ‘M tax’ on the tools as it needed a security torx spanner… £13 a set. (I know that doesn’t sound much, but they’re just glorified allen keys!)

After the nicely engineered German clip was unclipped and the two torx bots were undone I removed the sensor and set about it with good old Halfords electrical contact cleaner.

The hole in the middle of the picture is where the sensor came out..

IMG_0033styled

And here’s the sensor itself..

IMG_0032styled

It was pretty manky so I gave it a second dose and waited for it to dry.

Once dry, I put it back in and crossed everything whilst starting the engine. Hurrah, it started and idles ok so I didn’t make anything worse! I took it for a quick spin and whilst it might have felt a little more responsive it wasn’t that noticeable, if at all and there’s still a little hesitancy when cold.

But it still goes like an absolute rocket and makes everyone else seem like they’re driving at walking pace, so perhaps it’s a good thing that it’s not any faster than it was!

After looking into it a bit more it seems that the people who notice the biggest improvement have changed their OEM air filter for either a K&N or Streamlined Engineering (SE) filter. Where the standard filter is the usual paper/mesh based affair, the K&N and SE filters are what’s known as ‘oiled’, which means the paper is soaked in oil to improve the filtering capability.

One down side of these filters is that the oil can come off them over time and coat the MAF sensor, and as the sensor is self-cleaning (by heating up to 600 degrees to burn the crud off) it’s never changed as part of a service.

As mine has the standard air filter, my sensor was still clean enough to be working as advertised.

And who said you can’t learn stuff from the internet!