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Thread: Extra Precautions Due to Driving Schools

                  
   
  1. #1
    Member thotts's Avatar
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    Extra Precautions Due to Driving Schools

    I've done 3 driving schools since March of 2009, and I haven't done anything to the car, mechanically, since I started these HPDS. When I first started, I was required to have brake fluid changed.

    What should I be checking on my own (or having my mechanic check) due to the hard driving? Already the brakes are squeaking (not the squeak that indicates they need changing, just an occasional squeak, like they are tired ^_^).

    I have an E92 328xi. Stock.

    Thanks for any help and suggestions.

    -g-

  2. #2
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    Find any tech sheet and go through the list. I'd focus on checking the brakes and tires. Remember to also check the back side of the brakes and take the wheels off to check the complete tire. You might also want to do a brake fluid change again. Some require new fluid every 6 months, or at least bleed them.

  3. #3
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    In addition to the tech considerations which you are already looking into, I have been influenced by advice from my classroom instructor at HPDE from Track Daze: don't take anything out on the track that you would miss too much if it fell off a cliff. I have participated in 3 HPDEs, and in each one there were collisions between cars and walls (not involving me, thankfully), with no human injury but some extensive car injuries. If the car is your daily driver, that can be a problem.

    In part for the risk of damage, as well as the wear and tear on the car, I decided not to track my '07 335i, because I would miss it too much. Instead I went out and bought a car mainly for track purposes (although still street legal). I'm also learning by working on it myself, to prepare it for track. And, even though it would hurt to see it "fall off a cliff", as long as I'm not physically hurt, if something bad happened to the car on track it would not be the end of the world. I decided on a Miata as a good learning car, but there are other good choices. Total investment has been around $5k, including the car itself, putting in a roll bar, racing seats and 5-point harness, new rotors/brakes, fluid flushes, etc. Miata is, as my research found, probably the cheapest way to go. There are some BMW choices, perhaps already prepared for track (Anders has one for sale!), that are a few dollars more perhaps, but also very solid choices.

    Just a thought...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dirichlet's Avatar
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    As counterpoint, I have used my daily driver in HDPE's since 2004. I have had no incidents (other than some coolant system issues - damn plastic parts), and I don't find it much of a concern. There's a sweet spot where you can still push your limits, learning something at every school, and still be within the bounds of safe driving. I commend "thots" for being concerned about the condition of his vehicle, as that is the first step to a safe school.

    Given enough $$, I will probably, someday, get a track-dedicated car, and I do understand the point you're making Ethan. But, a track-dedicated car is not a prerequisite to HPDE attendance, nor should it be.


    Thots, in reply to your question:
    -brakes
    -tires
    -control arms (ball joints, bushings)
    -coolant system (especially expansion tank and hoses/linkages in an older or high-milage vehicle)
    -fluids (oil, brake, coolant, steering, etc.)

    There are a million other things, but if those above are fine you'll probably be doing ok.
    2000 323i
    1997 M3

    it was a beautiful day... the sun beat down
    I had the radio on, I was drivin'...

  5. #5
    Senior Member mcoupemindy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan Blank View Post
    In addition to the tech considerations which you are already looking into, I have been influenced by advice from my classroom instructor at HPDE from Track Daze: don't take anything out on the track that you would miss too much if it fell off a cliff. I have participated in 3 HPDEs, and in each one there were collisions between cars and walls (not involving me, thankfully), with no human injury but some extensive car injuries. If the car is your daily driver, that can be a problem.

    In part for the risk of damage, as well as the wear and tear on the car, I decided not to track my '07 335i, because I would miss it too much. Instead I went out and bought a car mainly for track purposes (although still street legal). I'm also learning by working on it myself, to prepare it for track. And, even though it would hurt to see it "fall off a cliff", as long as I'm not physically hurt, if something bad happened to the car on track it would not be the end of the world. I decided on a Miata as a good learning car, but there are other good choices. Total investment has been around $5k, including the car itself, putting in a roll bar, racing seats and 5-point harness, new rotors/brakes, fluid flushes, etc. Miata is, as my research found, probably the cheapest way to go. There are some BMW choices, perhaps already prepared for track (Anders has one for sale!), that are a few dollars more perhaps, but also very solid choices.

    Just a thought...
    There's always track insurance too ...

  6. #6
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    Check front brake pads and rotors for wear. Consider using higher performance brake pads for track use. As you pick up speed and start to brake harder, the stock brake pads might not perform consistently through a whole session.

    Speaking of racing brake pads...is there a rule of thumb for when to replace them? Say PF97's new thickness is 9/16 and they are at a little more than half or 5/16 now. I have heard half thickness to replace, or would they be good for another HPDE weekend at the track?
    Last edited by clutch; 07-28-2009 at 09:56 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clutch View Post
    Speaking of racing brake pads...is there a rule of thumb for when to replace them? Say PF97's new thickness is 9/16 and they are at a little more than half or 5/16 now. I have heard half thickness to replace, or would they be good for another HPDE weekend at the track?
    A lot depends on the pads, your style of braking and the car. I used to replace them at 1/2 but now I go much longer. I normally bring extra pads if I am concerned.

    The down side of using pads when they go down past half is there may be more heat to the piston. I notice my piston seals melting. Also pads wear exponentially. I change my brake fluid quite often.
    ...steven
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  8. #8
    Member thotts's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice guys! I never even looked at a brake pad before. My mechanical knowledge extends only to getting the car to the dealer for its scheduled maintenance. At the moment, I can't do any of recommended maintenance myself, I'd have to take the car to a mechanic. Yup, DIY here I come. Excellent!

    As far as the car getting crunched, I heard that the school is geared for regular people in their regular cars. That's me! The D (beginner) group is fairly sedate (except for ronh21 and his white M3 ^_^), and my skill, or lack thereof, kept my speeds pretty slow. I learned how to let people pass very well. Only in the 3rd school did I finally pass someone (!) and now I'm starting to pick up speed and I'm getting concerned about the extra wear on my car that's not expected by the maintenance plan.

    So far on the track, I've never been in fear of my car (in truth, I'm more fearful on the street heh) and I've seen a few results due to mistakes made by students and instructors. I guess I know it can happen and I accept it. The last school I drove off the track into the grass, came in too hot on a curve, and even through that I was completely calm and didn't panic in the least. Actually everything just slowed down a lot and I thought of everything I was taught (don't fight it, keep the wheel straight) to keep the shiny side up. I waited for the flagger say it was ok to get back on the track and continued with the rest of the day, undaunted.

    That said, I am keeping my eye out for a stock 97-99 E36 M3 with 100K+ miles, but skill-wise I won't be able to really appreciate it for a year or so.

    Anyway, you guys gave me the clue to do this maintenance myself and thanks to the DIY, I think that's going to be easy to accomplish.

    And just for the record, I'm a woman.

    -g-

  9. #9
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    Don't go past 20% on the pads. The calipers get unhappy, and you start running the risk of ruining your rotors as well.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member pseto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thotts View Post
    Thanks for the advice guys! I never even looked at a brake pad before. My mechanical knowledge extends only to getting the car to the dealer for its scheduled maintenance. At the moment, I can't do any of recommended maintenance myself, I'd have to take the car to a mechanic. Yup, DIY here I come. Excellent!

    As far as the car getting crunched, I heard that the school is geared for regular people in their regular cars. That's me! The D (beginner) group is fairly sedate (except for ronh21 and his white M3 ^_^), and my skill, or lack thereof, kept my speeds pretty slow. I learned how to let people pass very well. Only in the 3rd school did I finally pass someone (!) and now I'm starting to pick up speed and I'm getting concerned about the extra wear on my car that's not expected by the maintenance plan.

    So far on the track, I've never been in fear of my car (in truth, I'm more fearful on the street heh) and I've seen a few results due to mistakes made by students and instructors. I guess I know it can happen and I accept it. The last school I drove off the track into the grass, came in too hot on a curve, and even through that I was completely calm and didn't panic in the least. Actually everything just slowed down a lot and I thought of everything I was taught (don't fight it, keep the wheel straight) to keep the shiny side up. I waited for the flagger say it was ok to get back on the track and continued with the rest of the day, undaunted.

    That said, I am keeping my eye out for a stock 97-99 E36 M3 with 100K+ miles, but skill-wise I won't be able to really appreciate it for a year or so.

    Anyway, you guys gave me the clue to do this maintenance myself and thanks to the DIY, I think that's going to be easy to accomplish.

    And just for the record, I'm a woman.

    -g-
    you should come out to the DIYs to start learning about how to fix/maintain your car.
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  11. #11
    Member thotts's Avatar
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    Just registered for DIY #8 at Passport. Kinda funny since that's where I take my car for maintenance.

    -g-

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