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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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August 26, 2006

CSL Wheels Arrived

(Image: Velocity Motoring CSL Replicas)My new wheels arrived this week and they're (drum roll please) 18" Velocity Motoring CSL replicas. They look great as is, but I expect them to look even better wrapped in some nice high performance rubber and mounted on the car.

As I said in my last update, I'm not big on the bling thing, and I was somewhat concerned that anything but OE wheels would overpower the beautifully understated E36 body design, but I think these will freshen the look of the car in a tasteful way. And that's no surprise, really -- the CSL wheel IS a BMW design after all. The quality of the finish is definitely not OE but then again I'm not paying OE prices either. A reasonable compromise, I think.

I originally planned to have the vendor acquire and mount the tires, but when I learned that the tires would delay the shipment a week or more I cancelled the tire order and asked them to ship the wheels bare. While waiting for the wheels to arrive I went back to the drawing board to look for a good replacement for the Pilot Sport A/S, but the results were not encouraging.

The only well-reviewed "ultra-high-performance" all-season tires out there are the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S and the Pirelli PZero Nero. The Pirelli tires don't seem to have the complaints about noise later in life, but they apparently have a tendency to tramline and my technician backs up a few of the observations that Pirelli tires in general have a tendency to wear unevenly or just very quickly. They grip like mad (almost like a summer tire) but they have a tread life to match. And to top it all off, Tire Rack said Pirelli is discontinuing the PZero Nero and there's no word on its replacement. Ultimately, I think the best choice would be to put a set of Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 summer tires on the 18's and another set of the A/S on the 16's for winter-only use, but that would also be the most expensive route. I may do that eventually, but not this time around.

Ugh. I can't believe that I'm going to say this, but I may wind up going for Pilot Sport A/S again, this time in 235/40/18.

Flat Fixed

I managed to find a local tire place that would put a patch on the inside of the tire for $22, so I dropped off the tire and picked it up a couple hours later. When I went to pick up the tire they offered to put it on the car for me, but I passed because I knew full well they'd use an air wrench and over-torque it. And if you think that's no big deal, consider that when I got home and swapped the tire, I found I didn't really need my breaker bar to remove the wheel bolts. If they're torqued properly, I think the wrench provided in the car is sufficient.

All of this tire swapping got me to thinking. There are some things I plan to put in the car to make sure I can change a tire on the road safely from this point on:

The most interesting thing I noticed while running the car through several tanks of gas without the spare in the trunk? I blessed with 0.7 MPG higher gas mileage(!). You won't catch me running without a spare to save those pennies, though -- OPEC be damned.

Total Mileage: 131800, Wheels: $875, Parts and Labor: $22. Labor Savings: $20.