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Monday, December 22, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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January 6, 2006

Last month I dropped by the dealer to schedule an appointment for an oil service. While there, I spoke with my mechanic and brought up the issue of the sloppy 1->2 shift exhibited by the "new" transmission we installed a bit over a year ago. He asked me to schedule with a loaner so he could do a bit of driving to see what was up.

I brought the car in today. Later In the afternoon my mechanic informed me that the oil service went off without a hitch as usual, and that he was able to duplicate the 1->2 shift problem easily. He rendered an accurate description of the problem for the BMW tech center, and they ultimately suggested the next course of action -- tweaking of an adjustment band and replacement of a solenoid. The necessary parts (a pan gasket as well as the solenoid) are now on order. He asked me to bring the car back as soon as the parts come in -- probably early next week. He also mentioned that if this didn't fix the problem, the next step was another new transmission -- under warranty, of course.

The highlight of the day was getting to drive an E90 325i loaner. I developed fairly strong feelings about the car almost immediately. I can tell that if the E90 coupe is anything like the E90 sedan, it's going to be a love-hate relationship. This isn't an E90 site (yet), so I won't go into incredible detail about this, but I'll say a few things just in case anyone at BMW is reading.

Good things about the E90

Bad things about the E90

I don't like the exterior of this vehicle any more than any other Bangle design, but I could probably get used to it over time (much like I have grown to appreciate the E46). However, the one thing I cannot excuse under any circumstances is the interior. The people who designed (and approved) the interior need to be kicked in the nads and shown the door. Some cases in point:

The single biggest exterior design issue I have is the disturbing lack of protective side moldings. This evidently follows a disturbing trend in the auto industry to have form override function.

Do BMW designers think we live in a perfect world in which everyone is courteous enough to avoid slamming their doors into our cars? Where shopping carts don't become possessed and hurl into our vehicles at Mach 1? Or where I'm perfect enough to NEVER open my door too far in the garage right next to that metal structural support? I mean, BMW has intentionally screwed up the cosmetics of the car anyway...the least they could do is help us prevent ACCIDENTAL damage.

If you're wondering why I'm considering dropping $5K or more to refurbish my eight year old E36, now you know. Something tells me that truly great BMWs built by common-sense engineers are a thing of the past.

Parts $46, Labor $38. Total $99, Mileage: 123621.

January 30, 2006

After almost a month's delay, I brought the car in to have the 1->2 sloppy shift issue resolved. My mechanic adjusted the band and replaced the solenoid as requested by the tech line, but to no avail. I received a call around 3PM to let me know that BMW had approved replacement of the transmission free of charge. The appointment for that work is set for mid-February and is expected to take two days. There was no charge for today's work, and I got a free wash out of the deal as well.

While at the dealer, I asked the parts department to research some parts prices for the upcoming interior overhaul. Here are the results (note: these are retail prices, and I will receive a discount):

Obviously, this won't be an inexpensive endeavor, but as long as I don't sell the car or lose it in an accident, I can't lose. I figure that when combined with the new transmission, recent suspension and steering components, tires, and (soon) a new set of brakes, it's safe to say that the car will look and function like a new vehicle for considerably less cost. Due to the characteristics of the leather and carpet, I'm bound to restore some of that nice new car smell as well. How can you beat that?

Mileage: 124087.