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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Windshield, Take Three

One of the things I love about summer is that when driving home westbound (late in the day as usual), the sun is typically high enough in the sky that it's above the top of the windshield and out of my line of sight. Unfortunately, since we passed the summer solstice some three months ago the days have become shorter and my drive home of late has forced me to contend with a very bright sun low on the horizon.

Most of the time there is at least some high cirriform clouds that tone down the glare, but last week while I drove home with beautifully clear skies I found myself absolutely blinded by the sun. I was wearing sunglasses at the time but they had little effect. I tried refocusing my eyes and shifting my head left and right in a futile attempt to obtain better vision but realized that four years of sandblasting of the windshield on the daily commute had taken its toll. I quickly concluded that it was time to give my insurance company a call and get the window replaced again.

The installation crew from DuRite Auto Glass showed up today around mid-morning and managed to replace the glass in about an hour. I didn't bother to take any pictures because I already covered the subject in detail not once, but twice. About the only thing that's changed in the procedure was replacement of the manually-operated caulk gun with a motorized unit very similar in appearance to a battery powered drill. The tech can use the variable speed of the unit to change the flow rate of the sealant so they can fine tune the size of the bead or the speed at which they glide over the window frame. Very slick tool.

Many months back I replaced the air inlet cover at the base of the windshield but forgot to install the four clips in the center of the piece that keeps it snug up against the windshield. Since the crew had to remove the cover to replace the windshield I took advantage of the situation and replaced the clips. I figure that's one less job to consume my ever-decreasing free time.

While I had the tech on hand, I asked him whether it would be possible to replace the dried and cracking trim kit surrounding the rear window without actually replacing the window and he told me it wasn't possible because the trim typically bonds with the sealant applied at the factory. I'm not sure if I want to spend any money replacing that window, but the trim does look like garbage. Perhaps next year after more pressing issues are addressed.

Since the car couldn't be driven for a couple hours after the window replacement I pulled the E46 out of its lair on this beautiful early fall day and headed off to the salt mine.

My comprehensive deductible is still $100 (yea, I pay extra for that, but it's paid for itself several times over) so that's what the job cost me.

Delayed Cold Start

The BMW M52 engine has always been reliable and smooth-running. The one thing that I could always count on was the engine firing on the first couple of cylinders. A quick flick of the ignition key was all that was necessary to bring the engine to life. Unfortunately, around the time our corrupt government mandated the contamination of our fuels with the corporate welfare to ADM otherwise known as Ethanol, the engine started to take longer to fire and then it would tend to stumble for the first few seconds before stabilizing into its characteristically smooth idle.

Lately, as the weather has turned slightly cooler in the mornings I've noticed that the engine now turns over but doesn't fire until I run the starter for about 2-3 seconds. I was overdue for a can of "fix-it" so I went to my dealer to get a bottle of fuel system treatment and chat with my technician. He told me that the old treatment (translucent white bottle) has been replaced with a black plastic bottle closely resembling the retail packaging of Techron. This new stuff is made by the same company and it's supposedly "compatible" with E10 fuels.

Earlier this week I ran the gas gauge down to the red zone and then dumped a bottle of the cleaner in before fueling. The next morning the starting problem was worse, not better. Of course, I'm not talking about a real "hard starting" problem like some people seem to have with these cars in that I don't have to crank for 5-10 seconds or crank multiple times to get the engine to start, but it's just not running the way it did a couple years ago. And yes, I know the engine has almost 150K miles on it and I shouldn't expect it to run like it was new, but I just hate beating on my starter and battery for any longer than strictly necessary.

For now I'm still in the dark as to what's causing the problem but I have my theories and they will be explored over the coming months.

Mileage: 149151, Labor: $100