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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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March 1999

My service indicator INSPECTION light illuminated at roughly 18500 miles and I had the service performed by the dealer. No surprises on this inspection, which consumed 3 hours of labor ($225) and roughly $55 in parts, for a total cost of roughly $280 (plus government rape). Of course, dealer invoices for routine inspections are largely boilerplate in nature to cover the maximum amount of time BMW NA will reimburse the dealer, so I think it's doubtful it really took that much time, but that's how much I (ne, BMW NA, per scheduled maintenance) was charged to perform the first inspection on the car. Is is worth it? In my honest opinion, no, especially considering what's included (well, here's the important stuff anyway):

Driver's Seat Leather Replacement

I noticed some "delamination" (for lack of a better word) of the leather color from the leather itself in a crack-like fashion, which appeared to be the result of normal wear and compression of the seat, but when I mentioned it to the maintenance technician during the Inspection One, without question he arranged to have the entire seat back leather replaced. I came back two weeks later and left the car with them for the day (actually, I picked it up early -- about 3PM -- so I knew this didn't take them all day). The job looked great. While the tech was writing up the invoice I jokingly asked him, "so it's Free Scheduled maintenance and leather once a year for the first three years or 36K miles, right?"

Tires and brakes status:

At nearly 22K miles, it appears that I have approximately 5-8K worth left on the rear tires, which are wearing at only a slightly greater rate than the fronts, which probably have a solid 10K left. Since I'm not one to do things in a half-ass manner, I'll probably be looking at 4 new tires (possibly five if I replace the spare for consistancy) in the mid-summer timeframe. The brakes, on the other hand, look like they'll make it to 35K, though I'll have to keep an eye on the rears since they are wearing at a faster rate than the fronts.

December 1999

It's been a long time, but here's an update on things.

I've continued the ritual of off-cycle oil-changes (every 4500 miles, give or take). They cost $50 a shot, but the car always comes back to me cleaner than when I dropped it off, fluids filled, and maintenance log signed off. If you're as busy as I am and consider that this includes a "free" rental car for the day, this is well worth the cost.

I replaced the tires @ 30K this summer (right on schedule) with Dunlop SP8000s after much research. Turned out that at the time I needed to buy, the SP2000s were in short supply, the distributors were gouging at $270 ea (ah, no thanks!) and the Michelin Pilots were being replaced by the new "Sport" tire, but these were not yet available. So, the SP8000 seemed like the best deal at $130 ea + mount & balance. I have about 6K on them so far and am very happy with their dry performance. You need to keep it under Warp One when the ground is wet, but this was the case with the 2000s as well. Overall, I'd say their performance is equal to or better than the OEM.

I decided to replace all five tires so I could rotate the spare with the right rear, which wears far faster in proportion to the other tires...yes, even with traction control ON most of the time. Oh, did I mention that real cars have a full-size spare with a 5th matching aluminum rim? Makes it a bunch easier to do this. If you choose to follow suit, just make sure you remember to have the spare mounted and balanced properly, taking the directional nature of your tire (if any) into account.

I also got the dealer to replace the driver seat bottom leather because I noticed some fraying on the lacing cord on the top of the left bolster. It had to stay overnight while they removed the seat and sent it out to the leather shop, but it came back as good as new. The problem was really my fault, since I tended to "slide" into the seat, rubbing against the cord, rather than sitting down as I should, but it was nice to see that the dealer was responsive enough to satisfy my request. I have now what is essentially a new seat.

I noticed a slight rattling coming from the main air vent when I turned the fan up to maximum during the summer months and this was traced to a faulty vent. They replaced the vent/grille assembly and it's been quiet ever since.

The A/M light burnt out a second time and they replaced this. At some point someone is going to get wise about this and put a high-intensity LED into this assembly rather than an incandescent bulb and rid all owners of this annoyance once and for all. Hmmm...

At 36K miles, I'm nearing Inspection II. If my estimates are correct, it should occur around 39K.

Average MPG is very stable at 24.3, with a balance of around town and highway-like speeds. Keep in mind I don't baby this car. YMMV. Highest MPG recorded on a highway trip was sufficient to produce a RANGE indication on the OBC of 525 Miles from full tank to bone dry and I have found the OBC to be rather accurate when I compared the tank size with the amount taken on at the pump.