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Monday, June 24, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Front Sway Bar Bushings

The new 25.5mm front sway bar bushings came in so I picked them up and installed them today, and in doing so completed the front sway bar service. The steering is even smoother than it was before, and I honestly didn't expect much of a change because the old bushings, while slightly deformed, seemed to be in generally good shape.

The inner diameter of the new bushings fits the bar snugly, and the only issue involved fitting the bracket over the new bushing. The outer diameter of the bushing is slightly oversized so that tightening the bracket squeezes them against the bar to hold it tightly. I suppose in retrospect I could have used some sort of rubber lubricant that will dry out (my technician says Spray-9 works perfectly for this task) and cleaned up the bracket a bit, but I just used a hammer to gently tap the bracket over the bushing.

I then pushed the entire assembly up to the studs in the frame rail and threaded new nuts without difficulty. I noticed that this process initially opened up the split in the bushing a bit more than I expected, but the gap closed up again as the nuts reached their final torque of 22Nm or 16 ft*lbs and the bracket compressed the bushing against the bar.

For what it's worth, after 137K miles, the rubber in the old bushings was perfectly pliable...it was merely compressed in areas subject to the greatest stresses. Given the outcome, how inexpensive the parts are, and how easy it is to replace them, I recommend the bushings be replaced when the endlinks are done.

Mileage: 137600, Parts: $10, Labor savings: $80

Power Steering Hoses

(Image: Bottom of power steering reservoir showing hoses leaking) While the car was jacked up, I figured I'd take some pictures I needed to update the power steering flush article. And that's when I noticed leaks from both hoses on the bottom of the reservoir as well as some wetness around one of the fittings on the pump. The common denominator? Each fitting still sported the original BMW crimped clamp used during manufacturing nine years ago.

As I took a closer look at the hoses I noticed that the metal portion of the return line (the coil) was in bad shape too, except this had more to do with corrosion. I figure it will be just be a matter of time until this fails, so I expect to replace the hoses soon and do a flush as well. Of course, I don't expect things to be that easy. There's a distinct possibility that attempting to liberate the hoses from reservoir will break the nipples on it, so I plan to replace the reservoir as well. All told I'm probably looking at $150 in parts, but I'll probably save twice that again in labor doing it myself.

Year In Review

This will be my last maintenance blog entry of 2006, so I figured I'd reflect on the past year.

First of all, I've learned more about BMWs and auto maintenance in general in the past year than I had in the past 20. This has been a great educational experience. As with most new subject matter, I've regularly experienced the learning paradox -- the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know -- but that drives me to learn more and take more risk in the pursuit of that knowledge.

This year has seen the BMW portion of my site grow substantially. This is the first year that I've had something to say (good, bad, or indifferent) every month of the year. I've quadrupled the average number of unique site visitors and I've doubled my average bandwidth usage. dvatp.com is still a small site by most standards, but it's definitely becoming more popular -- for all the right reasons I think.

The interesting thing I've noticed is that search strings increasingly contain the specific terms "Doug Vetter", "Doug's Domain", or "Doug's BMW" (as opposed to generic terms like "diy bmw brakes", which tells me that people may not know my site URL, but they know my name and what I do. If this continues, pretty soon I'll be so popular that I'll find myself on the same social strata as the girl of my dreams. Incidentally, if you see my contributions here drop off precipitously at some point next year, it's likely because she's answered my prayers (or maybe those 1000s of stalker emails) and I'm busy with both hands on her rather than this damn insensitive keyboard. *sigh*. Back on topic.

I have several goals in the BMW space for 2007. I want to wrap up the restoration of the E36, increase the work I'm comfortable doing myself, and do whatever I can do to reduce the cost of ownership. After all, I have big plans for my money over the next several years and the less money I spend on maintenance (without compromising quality or safety, of course), the better.

To all the regulars, thanks for reading. I do this stuff for you. Here's to a great 2007!