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      05-01-2013, 11:18 AM   #17
GMP Performance
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Drives: E90 M3, E82 135I
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Charlotte, NC

Posts: 1,564
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Hey guys, we are the shop in Charlotte that quoted 5-6 hours for this job. There are certainly a number of opinions and they are all appreciated but we would like to clarify a bit of our installation process.

It all begins with us taking 15-30 minutes to check-in a car prior to getting started. The check-in process starts with us photographing the car from a number of different angles for "Before" reference. This way, the client can see what the height (in this case) of their car was and then once we shoot after pictures, the results.

In addition, we will test-drive the car on a 2.5 mile loop around the shop that allow us to feel/hear the car and make sure that everything is as it should be prior to starting the job. The loop consists of a number of sweeping turns and road undulations so that the OEM suspension can be "heard".

Following the check-in procedure, the car is pulled in and put on the lift. We have custom built lifts that were designed with extremely low arms (3" floor height vs. standard 5+" floor height) so that the tech doesn't have to put boards under the wheels to get the cars high enough. In addition, most lifts have the "flip-up" pads and ours have special puck pads that prevent damage to the under-panels. We realize that this doesn't apply to the labor times but we feel its a necessary point to understand the level of care that goes into simply getting the car in the shop and on the lift.

So back to the labor times question. Once the car is in the air, everything is removed with hand tools to prevent damage from air guns. So the wheels are removed by hand so that the wheels are not marred by the high-speed spinning of the air-tool. There are sleeved sockets available but on most delicately painted wheel surfaces, the brake dust that's in the bolt holes can severely scratch a wheel's finish. Even the under-paneling is removed with hand tools. Many of the bolts under the car are torqued to a specification and and air tool simply backs these out. With a hand tool, our techs can see if there is an issue with the bolt if its seized or even cross-threaded from a previous install. If that's the case, it can be corrected before ruining the internal threads on some chassis components. Using an impact gun will certainly "thread" it back in because they proudly "supply" 700lb/ft! Its not as big a deal on parts that are being replaced, such as a suspension nut and bolt, but we just do it this way for sake of habit.

Once the parts are replaced, the bolts are inserted and the nuts are threaded on by hand and tightened with hand-tools. This insures that the threads are true and will not be cross-threaded. The tech will then get a list of torque specs from the OEM parts program and hand-torque each bolt using a digital torque wrench, which has an audible when the desired number is achieved. Again, techs using air tools work by "feel" but if you ask most race teams, there aren't any air-guns being used, except during pit stops of course After everything is torqued, the tech puts a paint mark on the suspension components.

After the upgrades are completed, the tech drives the car around the same 2.5 mile loop to make sure that the car is performing as desired. Once it passes this road test, the car is ready for an alignment.

The alignment machine we use is the new Hunter Hawk Eye Elite. The two major benefits of this machine are the alignment heads that do not clamp to the face of the wheel at all and the steering angle reset process integrated into the machine. Here is a link to an overview of the machine to give you an idea of how we invested into this advanced product: Hawk Aye Elite Machine

Once the alignment is complete, we supply a full color printout of the before and after. Obviously the before is irrelevant since we had the suspension out but its our standard procedure. We also file this on our sever and can email it any time for the client. Most shops don't provide a sheet, let alone keep them on file.

Following the alignment, the car is driven again to make sure that the steering wheel is straight and that there isn't any pulling above and beyond the normal road-crown and surface tracking.

We provide this level of precise care regardless of our clients vehicles. We share our project gallery on our website and its dominated by Audi, BMW, VW and Porsche. Check out the latest projects and you'll see a nice E92 M3 with Dinan goodies from last week: Vehicle Gallery It would be great to see more Lambo's but you may have us mixed up with another shop that builds turbo-kits for those cars primarily and doesn't do aftermarket upgrade installs.

We dedicate a large portion of our install to quality control and making sure that its done right the first time. It is true that the physical job with air-tools may take 3-4 hours but there is a lot of additional "labor" that goes into our installations. We have this written on our site as well: Installation Philosophy

There are certainly a lot of options for BMW enthusiasts that range from someones garage at night while drinking beer, to a dealer tech doing it on the "side" after hours, to a service/repair shop that "knows" those cars. We feel that our philosophy applies to the aftermarket BMW enthusiasts the best and know its not for everyone. We appreciate the opportunity to provide our services and hope that this can shed a little light on why we are asking the amounts/times we do.
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