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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Bad Window Motor

Over the last few months I'd noticed the telltale signs of a failing driver's door window motor; the window would occasionally stop at some point on its way up and occasionally go into "reset" mode in which one-touch up function does not work. I chose to ignore the symptoms because the window worked and I just couldn't believe that the motor could be on its way out as it had been little more than two years since I last replaced it and wrote my Power Window Motor and Regulator DIY article for all you fellow crazy DIYers to enjoy.

About a week ago I tried to bring the window down to pay a toll (thankfully not something I do very often despite living in a state most associated with exits and tolls) and it refused to budge. The window motor is now stuck in the full up position. Of course, there are worse places for window to become stuck, particularly when it's a balmy 21 degrees Fahrenheit and my backup car is inaccessible, snowed in at the garage where I store it. I briefly thought of momentarily disconnecting the battery in an attempt to see if this was just an unfortunate "dead spot" caused by the logic in the window motor that might be cleared in the process but I quickly decided to leave well-enough alone so I don't create a bigger headache.

(Image: Closeup of old microfilter after 19000 miles) Since I couldn't get the E46 out of the garage, I couldn't get the E36 in so I could fire up the kerosene heater and get to work. So I've been forced to delay the job until better weather arrives (or the solid block of snow and ice in front of my garage door melts). Of course, when I do manage to fix it I'll have my own DIY article to help me remember all the little details. The quote to remember for 2011: "You know you've owned a BMW and a BMW website for a long time when you start to reference your own DIY articles".

Microfilter Replaced, Oil Service Postponed

While reviewing my maintenance schedule worksheet I realized I was 4500 miles overdue for my 15000 mile microfilter change and 500 miles beyond my usual oil service interval of 4500 miles so I went to the dealer today and picked up parts and supplies for both tasks.

I made quick work of the microfilter. When I pulled the unit out a ton of small leaves from a tree outside my residence fell out of the opening, and running the HVAC blower forced yet more debris out of the airbox. The interior needed to be vacuumed in any case so I took care of that in short order. In than 10 minutes total I had the new filter back in the car and the footwell panel reinstalled.

When I arrived at the garage and realized the full extent of the snow / ice mess I decided to put off the oil service as well. As usual the engine has burned no measurable oil in the last 5000 miles and I don't intend to do an oil analysis this time around so I am not concerned about the extended drain interval affecting the numbers. Rest assured, I'll get to the job eventually.

Seat Belt Buckle Stop

A month ago I got in the car, reached for the seatbelt buckle behind me and couldn't find it. I looked back and realized it had fallen down to the bottom of the belt near the base of the door. A quick survey of the belt found the buckle stop (a small black button-like assembly pressed into the seat belt webbing) missing. I went to the dealer and ordered the parts, thinking this would be a simple matter of snapping the two parts together and getting on with my busy life.

As usual, I was wrong.

The parts that arrived resembled a thumbtack and a small washer with a cup in its center. It didn't take long to figure out that when the parts are installed by the belt manufacturer they obviously use some kind of specialized compression or hot melt tool that presses the parts together and then cleanly rounds over the "spike" so it retains the washer part.

Of course, the tool used for this installation process is made out of unobtanium, so I was left to figure this out on my own. I had been meaning to ask my dealer tech about this idiocy but my crazy schedule had so far precluded that so I finally went looking online for a solution. It turns out everyone just presses the spike through the belt, installs the washer, clips most of the spike off, uses a soldering iron to melt the end of the spike and then presses the molten end appropriately to flatten it out into the cup of the washer, thereby retaining the washer.

So that's what I plan on doing...as soon as I get back over to the garage where I left the parts.

Light at the end of the tunnel

My brother's town finally issued the building permit for his toy box. Since it's not really practical to work with concrete in freezing conditions he expects to break ground sometime in March. If all goes as planned, I expect the building to be usable sometime in early summer, which means this should be the last winter I'm forced to work outside. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's called an automotive service lift.

Mileage: 203010, Parts: $30, Parts Saved: $5, Labor Saved: $80