1998 BMW M Roadster

stock photo of red interior
stock photo of red interior
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
in dealership upon delivery
chrome door surrounds for door handles
chrome door surrounds for door handles
chrome door surrounds for door handles
chrome door surrounds for door handles
side chrome
side chrome
custom silver mesh
custom silver mesh
custom silver mesh
custom silver mesh
at the pacific ocean
at the pacific ocean
rear mirror before upgrades
rear mirror before upgrades
center console before upgrades
center console before upgrades
center console before upgrades
center console before upgrades
door pillar fix
door pillar fix
LED vs bulb comparison
LED vs bulb comparison
LED vs bulb comparison
LED vs bulb comparison
LED vs bulb comparison
LED vs bulb comparison
garage door opener comparison
garage door opener comparison
garage door opener internals
garage door opener internals
garage opener insulated
garage opener insulated
button for garage door opener
button for garage door opener
garage opener installed
garage opener installed
fix for speaky seat
fix for speaky seat
missing seat belt tab added
missing seat belt tab added

M Upgrades

1998-2000 upgrades

Many of these upgrades (Dual-stage Motion Sensor, Chrome GearShift Knob, Digital Temperature Guage, and Cell Phone Power) are talked about in articles on www.mz3.net, while others (Footwell Lights, Custom Cupholder, Dual-stage Motion Sensor, Chrome Lighted Gear-Shift, and Chrome Front Mesh) are documented locally here at xkill.net. Be sure to check all of them out!
  • Laptop computer
    • Gotta stay on the net while on the road!!! This little guy offers a 150 mhz pentium (with MMX), 14x CDROM, 56.6 modem, 1.6 GB disk, floppy, two-hour battery, etc...
  • BMW 6-disc CD Changer
    • Well worth the $500 or so. I've only had a few skips, and it handles even tough CDs (like the CD recordable ones I make) without a hiccup.
    • Just wish it was bigger, like 12 CDs.
    • The install I did myself. Not too bad, but the directions could be clearer. DO NOT remove the rear tail light like the instructions say. You don't need to. The connector cables are beneath the floor right under the trunk hinge. Don't be shy, the cardboard-like substance the floor is made of can take quite a bit of bending.
  • BMW Alarm
    • Standard BMW alarm install, did it myself. Not easy with having to remove the glove compartment, but not impossible. It also has keyless entry. I *like* keyless entry. Of course, it caused major pain to get it all installed, and a few blown fuses.
    • I was able to add a radar motion sensor to the wiring harness. It detects gross movements in or near the interior of the car.
    • I also hacked in a shock sensor to detect impacts such as someone hitting my bumper.
    • Hacked the alarm to flash the hazard light on arming/disarming the alarm
  • Digital Camera - Sony Mavica FD88
    • An OK Camera that has a couple nice features - it can record 60 second MPEG videos, has an 8x zoom lens, can store pictures upto 1280x960, and stores pictures on floppy disk.
  • Cell Phone
    • Actually, I already had a Cell Phone. Really though, everyone should have one in their vehicle for emergencies. I hard-wired a power adapter into the car. It comes out behind the passenger seat.
    • My cell-phone is a Motororla Star-tac with Jabra hands-free adapter. Don't get the Motorola Star-tac PCS - it's crap.
  • Whistler 1490 Radar Detector
    • I only use it for highway driving. Too many false signals in the city, it detracts from the "roadster experience".
    • If I had it to do all over again, I'd pay the $400 for a Valentine One radar detector. The whistler is nice, but I'd prefer to use the V-1 based on what I've read recently. BTW, I also hard-wired it into the car.
    • All things being said, if a radar detector saves you from a single ticket it's more than paid for itself.
  • Motorola Talk-about radio
    • This is mostly used for keeping convoys of cars together, like during the Bay Area Drives (BAD) and when me and my best friend transport stuff in his pickup truck.
  • BMW Windscreen
    • The standard BMW windscreen
  • Red boot cover
    • I was able to get a tan boot cover instead of a black one and I paid someone to dye it red, the same color red as the rest of the interior.
  • Chrome gearshift knob
    • What more can be said? It's chrome, it's a gearshift knob. I was able to move the emblem from the top of the old one, and I'm was able to add the light feature back to it.
  • Scroth Shoulder Pads
    • Helps make the seat belts feel more comfortable.
  • Chrome Front Mesh Grill
    • To hell with all the expensive alternatives, I found a way to add a front grill mesh for less than $50.
  • Digital Temperature Guage
    • It's a small touch, but important to me. A digital temperature guage telling me the temp in the cockpit and at the front bumper.
  • Foot-well lights
    • I was able to add lights to the underside of the dash, both the driver's side and the passenger side. They are controlled via the dome light button near the top of the roadster A-frame. These are VERY helpful for the passenger (who is often forced to store things by thier feet due to lack of storage space.
  • Chrome accents
    • I was able to cheaply and easily add a chrome headlight knob and chrome surrounds for the outside door handles. Most recently, I added chrome door-lock pulls and chrome handbrake button.
  • Custom Ashtray Cupholder
    • Yet another attempt at solving the cupholder problem.
  • Chrome License Plate
    • It reads "roadster" in black letters. Looks REALLY nice on a black car...
  • Mag Light
    • Big black one. Only $10. I bought a bigger flashlight, one of those that you get in a grocery store just becuase all cars should have a flashlight. It burnt out after 3 days. Should've gotten a Mag-Light to begin with.
  • Orange cigar-lighter ring
    • I was able to change the cigar-lighter ring (the plastic piece that lights up) from it's default white color to an orange color that more closely matches the rest of the interior.

    2008 Upgrades

    By 2008, my still loved but often neglected M Roadster is showing it's age. She has become my daily driver due to marriage and a tougher job market and has developed numerous problems (including scratches that weren't my fault) and just general mechanical or cosmetic problems. I won't be able to fix them all, but I'll invest a little money and do what I can.
    NOTE: Anything in red is planned but not done yet. Items in blue are things not planned, but wanted.
  • Laptop computer & digicam Removed
    • Both were old and slow, so they had to go. I might replace both someday, but for now I'll go without.
  • Fixed passenger window trim
    • The passenger inside front window trim (the red plastic piece) never sit quite right due to one the of plastic tabs being all chewed up (it was like that when I got the car). I was finally able to fix that by making an aluminum "tooth" that I stabbed into the existing plastic tab. That finally gave the piece the strength needed to hold onto the mounting holes in the frame.
  • Removed cell phone power connector
    • I still have a cell phone of course (a palm Centro on AT&T for work reasons) and a bluetooth headset (Scala Cardio 500 in red and black) but I no longer consider them part of the car.
  • Doctor visit
    • I took my M to see the doctor - Bavarian Motorsport in Milpitas (recommended). I had a number of things fixed - an oil service (including thicker oil that helps reduce oil burning), the passenger door actuator was replaced, they glued my passenger mirror back on (it was broken off by my garage door), and they looked at my brakes (which didn't need work). Approximate cost was around $530.
  • Replace License plate lights with LED lights
    • Approximate cost $12 from http://www.tunerdomes.com
  • Replace Dome light with LED light
    • Approximate cost $13 from http://www.tunerdomes.com
  • Replace Trunk light with LED light
    • Approximate cost $13 from http://www.tunerdomes.com
  • Removed Whistler Radar detector
    • I haven't been using it for a while - The section cups got busted and I never got around to finding good replacements.
  • Removed temperature guage
    • Once again, it had been busted and non-working for a while. I finally got around to removing all the wiring.
  • Cassette tape MP3 player
    • How do you upgrade the sound system to support MP3s without replacing the head unit? Buy an MP3 player in a casette tape form factor from http://www.dealextreme.com and load it with an SD card. Approximate cost is $21.97 for the cassete tape MP3 player and another $3 (a deal) on a 1GB SD card.
    • I ended up selling the used MP3 player for $26 on ebay, plus shipping.
  • Missing seat belt tab added
    • The driver seat belt tab - the thing that prevents the silver clib from sliding all the way down to the bottom of the seat selt. Approximate cost was $2 for parts.
  • Integrated Garage door opener
    • Approximate cost $21.00 for the door opener, and another $20 on wire, switches, and liquid electrical tape. Total cost around $41.
  • Fixed sqeaking driver seat
    • My car doctor said fixing the seat would require removing all the upholstery and re-welding the seat rails. Based on a tip online, I fixed it my wedging a penny into the space between the seat and the rail. We'll see how long it lasts, but I can't beat the price.
  • Chrome accent for radio
    • I already had the chrome part, but needed some 3M adhesive to attach it. Approximate cost $8.
    • Not applicable since I replaced the head-unit.
  • Replace Mag Light with rechargable cigar lighter LED light
    • Approximate cost $17.45 from http://www.superbrightleds.com. I bought the wrong one at first, had to sell it, and ordered a new one. When all was said & done, I ended up paying about $28.
    • I replaced the cigar lighter socket with a new one (including the *proper* orange plastic ring) and polished the edge. It now looks bright and shiny like all the chome in the car. Approximate cost was $6 for parts.
  • Red key lighting
    • The original key had a neat amber LED inside, but the LED was dim by today's standards. I upgraded the light to a much, much brighter red light (I only had red LEDs on hand).
    • Why do this? Because it was there...
  • Chrome kidney grills
    • The aftermarket grills are not as solid as the OEM ones, but cost a less than 30% of the cost. I accidentally broke one while putting it in, but so far it isn't visable but I may need another set eventually. Approximate cost $47
  • Valentine 1 radar detector
    • I foujnd a great deal on ebay - someone with a current V1 (latest firmware) that needed to sell his V1 right away. He sold it to me for $280 plus $10 shipping (most go for $399 plus $15 shipping). I even used a 10% off coupon that was only good that weekend. Total cost was $262.
    • The auction turned out to be a fraud. Now I have to fight to get my money back. Argh.
    • After some fighting with paypal & my credit card, I recieved my money back (and due to a clerical error on thier part, an additional $28 dollars. Profit!
  • Replace Footwell lights with LED lights
    • Approximate cost $14.40 from http://www.superbrightleds.com. BMW replacement plastic trim pieces run $32 and $25. Misc wires and connectors ran another $10. Total cost around $82.
  • Replace car battery
    • Well, I didn't want to do this one but after working on the footwell lights I couldn't start the car. I really don't think I shorted anything, so I guess the brief soldering I did (using a cigar-lighter powered soldering iron) finally killed my 10 year old battery. Approximate cost was $98 for a drop-in replacement with *slightly* more power (650CCA vs. 690CCA).
  • Blaupunkt Brisbane SD48 radio
    • Upgraded head unit that plays (only) SD cards and radio. Also has a rear-mounted USB port. Approximate cost $160.
    • The included USB connector cable was nice, but not very useful. I found a nice panel-mount USB connector (but got screwed on the high price). Approximate cost was $27.
    • I was able to sell my old CD changer & radio on EBay for $150 and $100 before shipping, so I actually gained an extra $250 back.
    • My new stereo head unit was perfect in that the illumination was red and the main display could be set to any color, but the power button was blue. I took it apart (goodbye warrenty) and replaced the blue LED with orange but then needed to build a new non-blue plastic button. Approximate costs of the resin & dye is $40 (I already had enough rubber to do the molds).
    • I had problems with alternator whine and I tried everything to fix it - using the amplified speaker outs, using the pre-amp outs, building audio line-balancing circuits, etc. In the end, I greatly reduced the whine to acceptable levels by putting about 3db of attentuation in the speaker-out cables using 4 100ohm resistors but on bad days with soft songs and the volume cranked to 90% I can still hear the whine.
  • Added first aid kit
    • I added a small BMW first aid kit in the trunk. I used the space left by the removal of the CD changer
  • Alarm system radar sensor
    • The old alarm motion sensor stopped working, so I bought a new one. I also added a cut-off switch for the times I don't want to use it. The sensor cost around $52, plus another $10 was various connectors and wire. Approximate total cost was $62.
  • Fix issues with the convertable top
    • I've had 3 holes wearing in the top from the inside on the driver side, and 2 on the passenger side. In addition, the rear window is too cloudy and scratched to be able to save it. I found a place that does top-notch work, but is a bit expensive in the local area. I've paid them to patch the top, remove the elastic straps inside the top (the reason for the wear), and replace the rear window. Total cost was $1194.
  • BMW ///M tire valve caps
    • Approximate cost $18.
  • Leather armrest
    • Nice leather covered and padded armrest from LeatherZ.com (pricey though). Approximate cost $355!
  • Remove/Replace Scroth Shoulder Pads
    • Remove rotting shoulder pads
    • Added new red velour pads from http://www.seatbeltpads.com/ . They feature custom text lettering matching my license plate as well. Approximate cost $39.00 .
    • While seatbeltpads.com has a wonderful selection of stuff, thier customer service is beyond horrible. After dozens of calls & emails, now over a month later I don't have the pads nor any idea of when I might get them. After yet another fight with paypal (I really hate those guys) I got my money back.
    • What do you know - I finally recieved the pads nearly 2 months after ordering them. Quality is decent, though the red color is a little too bright (I think they sent the wrong color).
  • Bought service manual
    • I finally went out and bought the Bentley service manual for my car. I had an old copy, but that didn't cover the significant changes in my model year. Approximate cost was $76.
  • Chrome/leather shift knob
    • Replaced the old custom aluminum shifter with a leather and plastic chrome covered shifter. On the plus side, the finish is perfect and the leather looks great. On the down side, it's lighter (weight) and a bit longer. But overall, a nice upgrade. Approximate cost $145!
  • Fix center console
    • The center console is cracked and has glue on it (thanks to the morons at Allison BMW in Mountain View, CA) and must get replaced. Approximate cost, with parts and (much) labor was $570.
  • Fix heater/air lighting
    • The lights in the heater/air controls and the cigar lighter socket went out. They were a pain to replace and the cost was close to extortion from the BMW dealer. Approximate cost was $35 for 3 light bulbs.
  • Custom floormats
    • I'm happy with the general color and feel of the new custom mats (basic black, with heelpad, and red serging aroudn the outside) but the serging is a little bad. Basically the thread is kinda frizzy around the edges, but red was only available with serging and not binding. Overall, decent tho and they cost less than ///M floormats. Approximate cost $88
  • Top re-waterproofed
    • My top was leaking into the trunk - I tore apart the trunk and got closer to the source, but I'm not 100% sure. I think it may be from the top itself that no longer repels water but soaks water in. I purchased top cleaner & re-water-proofer to try that. Approximate cost was $37.
    • Well, that wasn't the source of the leak, but the top is waterproof now so I guess it's a win
  • Replace BMW emblems
    • The hood and trunk emblems were cracked and showing age, so I replaced both of them. Total cost was approximately $40.
  • Upgraded cellphone - the iPhone 3G
    • I bought an iPhone 3G. While it's not perfect the idea of having a semi-functional GPS, phone, web browser, plus misc apps (I don't care about the music much) is a win-win for me. This is not exclusive to the car, so I won't count the cost here...
    • I bought in interesting program for the iphone - dynolyscious. Basically, it's a functional dyno for $13. It can tell 0-60mph times, quarter-mile times, etc. Pretty cool.
    • The iPhone sucks down battery power like I drink coke, so I needed a car charger. Apparently my head-unit's USB port doesn't supply enough power, so I needed to but a seperate charger. Cost was $13.
    • I bought/made a car mount for the phone. It's designed so I can take it out when I sell the car and everything will be stock once again. Basically, it's a Panavise mounting bracket ($17), a ProClip device holder ($50), and a custom made cable ($12 for parts). Total cost was $79.
    • For the record, I built a new custom cable. It attached to the rear aux-in on the head unit and the iphone on the other. In the middle is a 12V to 5V charger (mentioned above). So this one cable provides audio and charging for the iPhone 3G. As a bonus, on one (rare) online forum I found the right resistor to make the "not designed for iPhone" message to NOT show up when then phone is plugged in.
  • Fix sagging glove compartment
    • I've developed the infamous glovebox sag, so it's time to bite the bullet and fix it. I've ordered a glove compartment "fix-it" kit that includes metal reenforcement metal that I installed. I also purchased a replacement plastic cover for latch itself. Approximate cost of both parts is $42.
    • I've removed the huge metal bolster inside the glove compartment. It's not really needed and adds over 2 pounds of weight to the door. Poor design, BMW. Shame on you...
  • Replace miscellaneous parts
    • This includes the flashing alarm indicator, the rubber seal between the body and top, and various plastic fasteners. Really approximate cost $70.
  • Fix top leak
    • My top developed a bad leak into the trunk floor whenever it rained or I washed the car. I ultimately found that the problem was two-fold. First, the rubber seal between the top and the body has failed and it seperated from a top slightly. Second, the nasty gooey substance between the top and the inner body has failed. Usually, that means a top replacement but I've "fixed" it by using tons of silicone sealant.
      Will the top hold up to abuse? Probably not too much, but it's worlds better than it was. Hopefully that will be enough. During car-wash testing, it stayed dry with only 1 drop of water making it through into the car.
  • Another car doctor visit
    • An expensive one. As a pre-emptive measure, I had my cooling system fixed before my water pump replaced - this includes the water pump replacement with a composite one, a new radiator, new expansion tank, plus more. I also had my driver-side window fixed (some plastic had popped out of the window regulator), and I had my rear passenger speaker replaced. Approximate cost was $1860.
  • Clear plastic windscreen
    • The old BMW windscreen basically fell apart with age - I replaced it with a clear Lexan windscreen. Approximate cost was $106.
  • Replace Brake lights with LED lights
    • One of my brake lights just burned out, so I replaced both rear brake lights with LED lights. Much more expensive, but brighter and instant on/off. I bought them from http://autolumination.com and despite the low-rent website the product was great. Approximate cost for 2 bulbs with shipping was $30.
  • Replace rubber seal between top and body
    • Yes, I've already done this once recently. The rubber gasget has shrunk significantly (more than 2 inches) and since it was cut to the right length before the shrinkage, it's now too short. Approximate cost for replacement is $58.
  • Condition rubber seals
    • I bought some rubber conditioner (Gummi-pfledge) and used it on various rubber seals for the top to keep them in good shape. Approximate cost was $16.
  • Fix radio whine
    • I think I'm getting a whining noise on the radio when playing certain songs. The sound is related to engine RPM. I need to look into and fix it
      UPDATE: Long story short, I think it was related to too high a voltage on the speaker wires. Putting attenuation resistors in-line helped reduce the whine significantly.
  • Add new subwoofers
    • On a Z3 board someone pointed out that the Pyle G54 speakers just barely fit in the old subwoofer enclosure. They were only $9 per speaker (need two), so I went ahead and bought them. So far, I'd say they are a 25% improvement over stock. Approximate cost with shipping was $33.
  • Water bottle and towels
    • You never know when a bird is going to decide to take a dump on your car, so I carry a sports-bottle of distilled water and some soft terry-cloth towels with me.
  • Add magnetic oil plug
    • I added a magnetic oil plug to help catch tiny metallic particles in the oil and prevent them from flowing through the engine cauing minor damage. Approximate cost was $8.
  • Driver window actuator
    • The driver window "pops" when it reaches the full up position. My mechanic recently fixed the same problem (less than 3 months ago). I'll need him to take another look.
  • Buy new tires
    • A recently hit a patch of water on the road and fishtailed all over the place. I need new tires badly
  • Adjust radar sensor
    • It's a little too sensitive right now. It may be going off randomly as well, I need to test it
  • Crap! My SD48 radio function (not MP3 or aux-in) is busted. The radio (all stations) fade in and out constantly & have no tremble. I need to buy a new unit
  • Valentine 1 radar detector
  • Z8 Chrome windshield washer nozzles
  • Re-finish Roadstar wheels in chrome
  • Short aluminum radio antenna

  • All images and text Copyright (c) Russ Caslis
    Do not use or reproduce without permission
    Last updated: 01-13-2016 at 04:37