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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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May 2001

The machine is 39 months new and has reached 54K miles, but it doesn't look a day over 24 months and maybe 20K miles. In fact, I dare say if BMW was still selling the E36, I could throw a new set of tires on it, detail it, and put it on the lot as new (okay, okay...just off a 1 year lease!). Friends who've seen the car recently can't believe how great it looks for its age, and I have to admit taking a bulk of the credit for that since I do take care of it. Of course, the thing that separates this car from every other is that it drives like it looks, but I have to give most of the credit for its sound mechanicals to BMW engineering. :-)

I haven't been driving it much since I bought the GTI last October in order to keep the mileage down until I figure out whether I'm going to trade it in on a E46 330ci. I hate the thought of selling it particularly because it's a great car and it wants for nothing, but I have to admit that the new 3.0 Liter 6, Xenon headlamps, 17" alloys, and other goodies now available on the car make upgrading a definite "want" on my list.

On another note, a few months ago I ran out of my usual paste wax so I went to the local WalMart to grab some new stuff. They didn't have the particular formula of McGuiar's I wanted so I wound up buying Zymol's original formula liquid wax. I had heard about this stuff but figured that, for the most part, "wax is wax". OH MY GOD was I wrong. This stuff is INCREDIBLE. Its combination of ingredients (carnuba wax, beeswax, vitamin E, aloe vera, bananna-coconut extracts, almond meal, and so-called "shining agents") did a GREAT job of cleaning up the clear and (most strikingly) restoring "depth" to the paint. I've been detailing cars for a long time and have tried lots of different waxes and waxing techniques, but when applied by hand (with a moist cloth) and removed by orbital polisher, Zymol just takes the cake. I strongly recommend it (and no, no one is paying me to say that...tho I wish they were!). It costs a bit more than double the usual paste wax, but given the results and the fact that I'll probably get 30+ waxes per bottle, that is (quite literally) pocket change.

October 2001

In mid-September I took the car to the DMV to be inspected and on the way home I took a rock in the passenger side of the windshield. In early October, I had the window replaced after a somewhat lengthy process to get my insurance company to pick up the tab. Check out the full story.

While I was waiting for the windshield to come in, I took the car to my dealer for an oil service at a tad over 56000 miles and a little less than half-way through the service interval. This represented a little under 3000 miles in 11 months time, a significant decline over the previous years' usage.

The oil service was performed as expected -- nothing to report there. However, the tech sent along an "in-house" inspection checklist (as opposed to the official BMW Inspection I/II checklist) that noted two things: 1) front brakes would be required soon, and 2) the left rear tire is unevenly worn on the inside. No surprise on the brakes, but I have to admit the uneven rear tire wear caught me off-guard. Translation: this means that I may need to do some suspension work in addition to brakes in the near future...and particularly before I invest the $$$ in tires. Fortunately, given current usage, I may not need to do this until next summer (or possibly later).

December 2001

I hadn't driven the car much since its last service, but when I took it out on Thanksgiving day to visit family, I practically got high on the smell of antifreeze coming from my vents with the heat on. Check out the full story.