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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cracked Windshield

Last Sunday I was cruising down the Garden State Parkway enroute to my mother's shore house to get together for mother's day when I took a small stone in the window. I didn't see the stone coming so it must have been pretty small, and didn't see any obvious damage so I considered myself lucky. After lunch I decided to give the car a bath. As I made my way around the car and approached the windshield I did a double-take. What I thought at first was just a stream of water flowing down the window I soon realized was a continuous crack in the center of the window extending from top to bottom.

You might think that I freaked out at this point, but in all honesty I just shrugged my shoulders, considered this a stroke of good luck, and finished washing the car. Why good luck, you ask? Simple. It needed to be replaced anyway. After being subjected to the commute for nearly four years, the window was heavily pitted and would practically turn opaque when driven into the sun. Because the window was thoroughly cracked, I knew its replacement was guaranteed by the insurance company and, given my $100 comprehensive deductable, my out of pocket cost would be reasonable.

The fly in the ointment, however, was the fact that about a year ago I'd switched from State Farm to Allstate and I didn't know how they would handle the claim. When I called my agent, they quickly transferred me to Allstate national, who then put me on hold for about 5 minutes. They then took my information, asked me a few questions about the state of the window, confirmed that it qualified for replacement vs. repair, and then suggested they would transfer me to their preferred repair company, Safelite.

Now, I'm sure that Safelite knows how to do this job just as well as anyone, but all things being equal I told the Allstate rep that I preferred to deal with DuRite. Allstate quickly transferred me to DuRite and DuRite's rep, Mike, took my vehicle information including VIN, confirmed my request for OE glass, and told me they'd call when it arrived to schedule the repair. The glass is expected in on Monday so it appears I'll put my fourth windshield in the car sometime this week.

While I had Mike on the phone I asked for a quote to do the rear window since one of the heater circuits is non-functional and the trim surrounding the window is disintegrating. The current plan is to do this work while the car is down for the front suspension overhaul. The cost? $550. Are you SURE you want to own an old BMW? :)

New Driver's Side Door Panel Arrives

After several weeks of commuting with a door panel that has insisted on making really noticeable and annoying rattling noises every time I go over a bump in the road, on Thursday I decided it was time to bite the bullet and buy a new door panel and a new tweeter pod to replace the part that had cracked several months back.

The parts guys took serious pity on me and gave me a whopping 36% off the door panel ($665 retail, $425 my cost) and a cool 40% off the new tweeter ($158 retail, $93 my cost). Those are the highest discount levels I've ever received on any substantial part I've ordered from them (i.e. not counting simple fasteners or wiper blades), and that's the good news.

The bad news is that BMW stocks and ships exactly one door panel part number in beige and that panel has no cutouts for the tweeter and midrange pods. A couple of the techs confirmed that this is the way it's done and I'll have to take a knife (and/or a dremel) to a brand-spanking-new $425 door panel to install the drivers. The upside is that the circumference of the pods is embossed into the rear of the panel to serve as a guide so I won't necessarily be cutting "blind". In spite of this, I can assure you that I'm not looking forward to that nerve-wracking task. Anyone want to come over and do it for me? :)

I'm also disheartened, but not surprised in the slightest, that BMW's interior subcontractor has done nothing to fix the moronic design of these door panels in the last thirteen years. For this reason, I plan to proactively apply two-part epoxy to all the "weak" areas of the panel in an effort to prevent its failure as long as possible, but only time will tell if my efforts will be for naught.

Mileage: 208200, Parts: $553, Parts Saved: $305