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Friday, August 22, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oil Analysis Results

(Image: Blackstone Labs Oil Analysis Report for October 14, 2010)Blackstone returned the oil analysis results today and I have officially breathed a sigh of relief because the lead value has returned to normal. This leads credence to the diagnosis of a particle streak and gives me hope that this engine could soldier on for another 50K miles or more without needing any serious work. The downside is, as I approach 200K miles, that if I do experience any trouble with the engine the best course of action will likely be a complete teardown and rebuild...probably to the tune of $10K. All I can do is hope that by continuing to service the engine properly it will go the remaining distance.

Years ago when I started hanging around my technician's shop I noticed he used to remove the engine air filter and tap it on a clean surface. When I saw the amount of sand and other debris come out of the pleats I vowed to perform that simple task on a regular basis (every couple thousand miles, or every oil service at a minimum) and I'm firmly convinced that this practice, in combination with a new filter every 30K miles, has a positive effect on the silicon value in these results. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I have no idea why anyone would want to run a so-called "high performance" filter and risk sandblasting the interior of their engine.

Email Trend

I figure I'll take this time to point out a trend in the email I've been receiving over the last couple of years.

I still receive the usual "thanks for the site" email a few times a week and always appreciate those because it tells me people are still getting something useful from this site, but I've noticed a disturbing increase in the number of emails I receive from people asking advice on how to circumvent proper maintenance procedures for one reason or another (usually the cost involved). A couple cases in point:

More than one person has asked me for advice regarding alternatives to replacement of the auxilliary fan. When I reminded one guy that the aftermarket unit highlighted in my Auxillary Fan DIY was a bargain relative to the OE part and a great way to save money, he openly admitted that he didn't have $250 for that part. As I tried to come up with a rebuttal I just shook my head and wondered WHY.

One guy from a foreign country that will go nameless recently asked me if I would comment on how the engine would run if he removed the O2 sensors and gutted the catalytic converters because "he couldn't afford $2000 cats on a car I bought for $3000". Regardless of the fact that his country reportedly had no regulations prohibiting this modification, I had to be blatantly honest and tell him that not only would that result in decreased engine performance but also a hell of a lot more pollution. I won't bother you with the remaining details of the exchange but this was the proverbial straw. I have to get some things off my chest:

  1. Please do not send me email asking me how to cut corners on maintenance. This website should be proof positive that I subscribe to a different philosophy so I will no longer waste my time trying to give any advice contrary to that philosophy.
  2. Just because you bought your BMW for $3000 does not mean you can afford to own it. I spend, on average, $0.25 per mile on maintenance on my E36. Do the math before you sign on the dotted!
  3. If you can't afford to spend $2000 for new cats it's time to buy a Honda, and if you don't have $250 to allocate to vehicle expenses in any given month it's time to acquaint yourself with alternate forms of transportation including public transit and/or a bicycle.

And before you email me to cry foul, keep in mind that I practice what I preach. I've long wanted to purchase a twin engine airplane, and at market prices approaching that of a nice Porsche, I could buy one if I wanted to, but I haven't taken the leap for one reason: I can't afford to feed the thing 30 gallons of 100 octane aviation gasoline per hour when gas is $5/gallon. That's $150/hr in fuel alone, and fuel is but one small cost of the total operating expenses of such an aircraft. The same could be said for a BMW.

Mileage: 198500, Parts: $25