September 21, 2006
It's true what they say. Things are not always what they seem. And to think I was about to write off the Pilot Sport A/S. First I thought it was the front tires. Then I convinced myself it was the rear tires. But over the last two days I noticed the character of the annoying wah-wah-wah sound change, first to a more consistent growl, and then to a really annoying pulsating growling noise and vibration powerful enough to be felt through the floor. I may be slow at times, but I ain't stupid. I know a bad wheel bearing when I hear it.
Not 300 feet out of my driveway this morning the noise became almost deafening, so I decided to make trip to the dealer so my technician could confirm the diagnosis. On the way there I performed a few standard tests so I could give that data to my tech and hopefully save his time and mine. First I swerved left and right.. No real change. I accelerated rapidly. Still no change. Only when I quickly let off the gas following that acceleration did I notice the growling become more pronounced.
I arrived at the dealer and gave my tech the symptoms and the results of my tests. Accomodating as ever, he quickly hopped in the driver's seat for a test drive, but we didn't get more than a couple hundred feet toward the exit when he confirmed that it was the left wheel bearing. We turned around and headed back to his bay to discuss it. I knew what had to happen -- but I just didn't want to go back home to get the E46. With a sinister grin on my face I asked "So...how much longer do you think I can or should drive this?" With a playful tone he reasoned "Well, you'll have to bring it back for an appointment. It's seven miles to your house, and seven miles back here. That's fourteen miles!" Okay, okay. No need to hit me over the head.
Normally I'm willing to wait however long it takes to get an appointment, but since I wanted to get the car back in service as quickly as possible I brought the car in this evening in the hope that they'd get to it before the weekend. The next update will tell.
"Wait a minute", I hear you ask. "I thought you were on a DIY kick. Why are you having the dealer do this?" While replacement of front wheel bearings on a BMW is a straightforward task, and I do plan to do those myself soon, rear wheel bearings are a pain in the ass under optimal circumstances (i.e. you have the right tools and the bearings haven't fused themselves to the trailing arm or the hub). At this point I don't have the tools, I know that it would take at least a week to get them here, and mileage on the E46 is a lot more costly than that of the E36. And then there's the little voice in my head I often take with me when I fly, warning me "don't bite off more than you can chew on your first major DIY project". I think the brake job will be enough of a burden.
On a positive note, I received the shipment from Tischer BMW and everything appears as ordered. Pads, rotors and set screws for four corners plus the two wear sensors came to a bit over $340. That's a great price so as long as they keep the discounts coming Tischer will get first crack at my parts business from now on. Many thanks to Jason for a completely professional transaction.
And speaking of brake parts, I just noticed a slight defect in the right front rotor that is the result of pad wear. It's no big deal at this point and I'm still hoping to do the brakes when the sensor trips, but if the rotor gets much worse, I'll consider the pads spent and just do the job to get it out of the way before cold weather sets in. No sense in working in a cold garage if you can avoid it, right?
Total Mileage: 132800, Parts: $343