Sunday, December 14, 2008
I had originally planned to do some flying for the first time in two months today but the high winds combined with the after effects of a large snowfall and ice storm at my intended destination put the kibosh on those plans. I decided instead to sleep in, have a lazy winter breakfast consisting of some sweet pomegranate juice and incredibly fattening blueberry waffles topped with 100% maple syrup refined in our fine state of Vermont, and then venture out to the garage in the afternoon to tackle an oil service on the E36.
I usually try to do an oil service every 4500 miles but due to weather and my schedule I didn't get around to it this time until nearly 5000 miles had passed. No harm done, of course, as my oil analysis vendor has more than once indicated I could easily add 2000 miles or so to my standard interval before exceeding any statistical averages.
And speaking of oil analysis, given the quality of recent analysis reports and the ever pressing need to meet my savings targets I decided to skip the oil analysis this time. I'll do another analysis at the next oil service in March or so, but will likely continue to alternate from now on unless something out the ordinary develops.
The oil and filter parts came to $47. While I was at it I bought four bottles of the BMW windshield washer fluid concentrate for $2.60 per bottle ($11 total) to carry me through the season. Last season I used only two bottles for protection down to 0 degrees F but as it turned out the winter was mild and relatively snow-free. This year I expect to use a bit more because we've already had an extended period of cold temperatures, our first snow of the season, and tons of precipitation (virtually all of which has been in liquid form, fortunately).
Blower Motor Parts and Prep
As I indicated in an earlier blog entry the cabin air blower motor made a bit of noise last winter but this season the noise has been far more noticeable and persistent. While visiting my dealer last weekend I spoke to one of the regular techs (but not my usual guy) about the blower noise and he was quick to point out that what I am hearing might be the result of some foreign matter in the blower housing and NOT a failed blower. I told him that it typically happens only when cold and it really does sound like a bad bearing. He quickly retorted that if this is the case the motor could possibly run for years like that. And he's probably right.
But the noise is audible from outside as well and while I'm as environmentally conscious as the next guy, I don't want it to sound like I'm driving a hamster-powered hybrid. So I broke down and ordered a new blower from Tischer (getbmwparts.com) this week. The total cost of the blower was $353. I also bought a replacement mounting clip/bracket just-in-case for $4 and I paid $12 for shipping, for a grand total of $370. My local dealer wanted $487 with tax for the same parts so I'm ahead of the game at this point by $117.
If you're wondering why I'd spend big money on the OE unit when aftermarket units are available at considerable savings, look closely at the picture. That little silver clip in the center of the squirrel cage allows one to remove the cage from the armature, while the aftermarket units notoriously lack this feature. This is necessary because only a masochist would attempt to cram this rather large blower assembly into the incredibly small access hole BMW built into the vehicle structure. The solution, of course, is to disassemble the fan, insert the pieces into the access hole and reassemble it in place. So it's a matter of saving $150 and spending an extra three hours trying to fit the square peg in the round hole OR buying the OE unit that is designed to simplify the problem. Hmmm...tough choice. Not.
Incidentally, the tech I spoke to confirmed that when the dealer techs do this job they remove the wiper arm assembly as recommended in the TIS to provide additional clearance so I expect to do that as well. Book labor is 3.1 hours so I am expecting a fairly long and tedious job. Hopefully the results will be worth the effort.
Barring total failure of the fan I've scheduled the installation for the upcoming holiday break. I have enough Kerosene to run the heater in the garage for a few days, so I figure if I can't get the job done in that time I'll just bring it to the dealer with my tail between my legs. :-)
Mileage: 169803, Parts $428, Parts Saved: $117