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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Friday, January 5, 2007

Body Shop Progress

Like most families, mine gathers to pig out on New Years Day (literally...we had ham AND turkey!) As luck would have it, the body shop I chose to do the work on the E36 (same one I used last year for the second deer hit) happens to be within about 20 minutes of my uncle's place and a BMW dealer. Since my brother and I were headed to the same place that day he offered to help me drop the car off at the shop so they could start the work necessary to repair the sidewipe damage first thing in the morning.

The shop is about 45 minutes away from my home and I normally wouldn't have been able to get up there to see the work in progress but my brother happened to be in the area yesterday and managed to take a few snaps I thought you might want to see. Like I've said before, body work is a messy business, which explains why I put the OE wheels back on the car. I think that makes a total of five (5) swaps of these wheels over the last month or so, but who's counting, right?

I decided to repaint only the driver's door and blend into the front and rear quarter panels, as well as replace the skirt and both side view mirror covers. The right side mirror cover was not involved in the incident, but it was never prepped properly by the original shop so its paint had started to flake off. Since it's a no-brainer to paint it while he has the paint mixed for this job, I decided to spring for it now. The right side door will, unfortunately, retain the blemishes of the first paint job, but repainting it would have cost another $1500 and that's money I'll need for more critical work (see below).

The last shop to work on the driver's door didn't take the time to remove the door handle trim, so they masked around it -- or I should say, they attempted to mask around it. Two corners were clearly painted over and it always irritated me that they didn't take the time to do the job right. This shop's owner knows me well enough that during the initial quote he assumed I'd want the trim removed and just asked if I wanted to replace it with a new piece. The trim's rubber gasket had a few cracks in it (a common problem on these cars as they age), so since it only cost $12 and would save me the hassle of doing it myself later I told him to go ahead with it.

Removal of this trim piece on the coupe requires removal of the door panel, since a small piece of metal blocks access to the "slider" release mechanism through the edge of the door, so I removed the door panel before dropping the car off at the shop. Normally, I'd let the shop take care of this, but I had to remove the door panel anyway to fix a few things. The annoying thing is that as careful as I tried to be, the upper door panel retainer pieces broke free from the door panel again so I have to reaffix them OR replace the door panel. And while I'd welcome the cosmetic enhancement of a new door panel (mine has more than a few scuffs on it), I'm not sure I am prepared to stomach the $500 bill for the new part.

Hopefully the vehicle will be ready for pickup sometime next week so I can get started on other work, like the Check Engine light diagnosis.

Check Engine Again

The day before I brought the car in the check engine light illuminated again and all I could think was "oh well, here we go again". The problem has clearly grown worse, so I probably do need new catalytic converters, but I'm planning to approach the solution slowly so I don't spend money needlessly.

I know all four oxygen sensors are original, and at 140K miles they should be replaced, however I don't want to bother installing oxygen sensors in the mid-section if I'm just going to pull it down later.. The first step, therefore, will be to replace the pre-cat sensors located in the headers. The connectors for those sensors are located under the engine covers and I'm planning to have the covers off to do other engine work, so I plan to do the oxygen sensors at that time.

There is no particularly inexpensive aftermarket alternative for the OE oxygen sensors so I'll likely pay around $150 each, or $300 now and $300 when I do the mid-section (which is $1500 in itself).