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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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June 20, 2006

Cooling System Wrap-Up

(Image: New Expansion Tank)After a nice weekend of driving the E46, I took it to work on Monday morning. Since the dealer is on the way, I stopped in to brief my tech on what happened on Friday. Although he had a few jobs ahead of mine, I really didn't care. He was up to speed on what needed to be done and I certainly wasn't annoyed at the prospect of putting miles on the E46 to get it out of break-in. So, after talking shop for a bit, I let him get back to work and left for the salt mine.

Today, I got a call from my service advisor to let me know that the car was done, and I went to pick it up this evening. The cost was higher than anticipated because my tech recommended we install a new coolant level sensor ($30) and cap ($17) in addition to the expansion tank ($85), but I'm happy that there wasn't any other damage. The bill could have been a LOT worse.

I spoke to my tech and asked why he suggested replacement of the sensor and he said the original eight-year-old part looked a bit "funky" (obviously a technical term) and it would be difficult to replace later with the tank installed. Works for me. After he gave me the old tank, I looked closely at the crack and asked whether the filler cap has a pressure relief. Knowing where I was going he added "yes, it will release pressure at 2.0 bar (29 PSI), but I checked the old cap and it worked -- I simply replaced the cap because, well -- you don't want this to happen again for some strange reason, right?" Again, I couldn't argue with his logic. The cap is cheap insurance.

Changing of the Guard

Earlier this month the dealership I've come to know so well, King BMW of Freehold, changed hands. The King Family had been in the car business for over a hundred years and owned several franchises at this location before selling them off to focus exclusively on BMWs for the past five years. A few months ago they resolved to sell the remaining BMW franchise to a local dealership conglomerate and exit the auto sales business entirely.

In a long discussion with one of the sons, I expressed my disappointment and concern for the change, but after he told me why the family agreed to sell, I couldn't blame them. The family's justification for the sale was obviously never meant for public consumption so I won't repeat it here, but I will say that it had to do with BMWNA and what BMW wants the vehicles to become over the next 5-10 years. Needless to say, it's not good. The King family tried to do the right thing for the end customer (you and me) but BMWNA refused to budge, and the result, as they say, is history.

Thankfully, however, most of the people I've come to know on a first name basis are still there including one of the Kings, another family team consisting of mother, father and (unbearably hot) daughter, and a certain technician that used to fix the bike ridden by one of the King's sons -- who later grew up to be that technician's boss and general manager for the last 10 years. And yes, that technician was *my* technician. How's THAT for family history?

If news of the sale wasn't bad enough, I received word from my service advisor today that the new owners have increased the labor rate to $102 an hour (!). While I never liked paying in excess of $80/hour for King BMW to work on my car over the past eight years, I always took some solace in the belief that I was helping a local family-owned business thrive. Now all I feel I'm doing is helping a lot of indifferent bean-counters in a far-away office buy their next yacht. But such is business in America these days, and we have nothing but greedy MBA types and the colleges that train them to blame for it.

Hmmm...now where did I put my Bentley manual...

Total Mileage: 129114, Parts: $131, Labor: $235, Total: $388.