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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Summer Rubber

As the calendar turned to April and the threat of winter weather here in New Jersey diminished I felt it was time to return to summer rubber. This would have been a simple 15 minute tire swap but I had some other plans (see below).

(Image: E36 up on 4 jacks for Brake Fluid Flush) The one thing I noticed in doing the tire swap is that the winter wheels came off the hubs very easily thanks to the anti-seize compound I put on the hub last time. Since the 18" CSL reps are machined to fit a bit tighter to the hub I made it a point to clean off the old compound before I applied a new coat. Guess I'll wait and see next fall if this will make my life easier. I expect it to.

Naturally, I used my air impact wrench to remove the lug bolts and that made very quick work of that task. When it came time to reinstall the bolts I started all five by hand and then used my air ratchet with a 3/8" to 1/2" adapter and the same 17 mm socket to get all the bolts within a few turns of final torque. Worked like a charm and saved me a couple minutes each wheel. I recommend this technique if you have the tools.

But whatever you do, don't use an impact wrench to tighten the lug bolts. That seems like a good idea and a real time saver...right up to the point that you bust a knuckle or two trying to use the OE tire iron to break the bolts free to swap on a spare out in the middle of nowhere. Always torque your lug bolts using a torque wrench.

Brake Fluid Flush

Although the brake fluid flush wasn't technically due until June I figured I'd take care of it myself while the wheels were off. This was my first time working with the critical brake hydraulics so long before I opened a single bleeder screw I did a ton of research on the usual BMW forums, bought the right tools, and confirmed the best practices with my technician. As a result, the flush went exactly as expected and only took me about 45 minutes.

Modern BMWs require DOT 4 brake fluid. Although any DOT 4 fluid will work for a street car, I picked up some good quality ATE TYP200 gold fluid from Steve at Ultimate Garage for the simple reason that his facilities are here in New Jersey and knew I could ship via ground to keep the cost down and yet get it delivered next day -- and that's exactly what happened.

This was also the first time I used all four jack stands to keep the car level during the flushing process. I jacked the front first with the rear wheels chocked and the parking brake applied, got the stands under the front stable, and then carefully jacked the rear before throwing the second set of stands under the rear jack points. This gave me the confidence I'll need to do transmission fluid flushes, among other work that necessitates all four corners up in the air.

Cost Analysis

The typical cost for this service at a BMW dealer is almost $200, so I saved about $170 in labor doing the job myself.

As far as tools and equipment are concerned, I bought the "Black Label" Motive Pressure Bleeder for about $60. I already had the 7mm and 9mm box end wrenches required to open the front and rear bleeder screws, respectively, so no direct costs there. The collection bottle was made from a spare water bottle and copper wire (no shortage around here since I'm an electrician), and some 1/4" I.D hose from Home Depot that cost less than $5. So the "real" savings is only about $90 this time around, but the effective savings will ultimately improve in future years as I take over yet another job I previously left to the dealer techs.

Mileage: 158457, Tools: $60, Parts: $20, Labor Saved: $170