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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flat Tire, Swap, and Repair

Last week at work I went outside during lunch for my daily dose of Vitamin D therapy. This naturally took me past the E36 in the parking lot. I didn't get closer than 100 feet before I realized something wasn't right. While it's difficult to notice any kind of bulge on low profile tires from a distance, this one stuck out like a sore thumb. The left rear was flat.

I examined the tire and found a small nail square in the center of the tread. Without thinking much about it I pulled the spare, the OE jack, and my set of small wheel chocks and got to work. About 15 minutes later I had swapped the tire. The advantages of a full size (and matching) spare soon became obvious, as I was not limited in any way on the drive home aside from the need to drive more carefully in any rain due to the directional tread being inappropriate for this side of the car. As I walked back to the office I cursed the idiots at BMW for removing this essential piece of safety equipment from its "modern" vehicles. Heck, even the E46 has a space saver spare, and the spare tire well is large enough to fit a full size spare. Guess what I'm yanking out of the spare tire well the second I replace the stock runflat garbage with some nice conventional PS2 rubber?

The next morning I dropped off the tire at a local tire dealer. Any company could have patched the tire but I selected this particular company because they were equipped with the same Hunter mounting and balancing equipment my dealer uses. so if it became necessary to remount and balance they could do the job properly. Fortunately, due to the nature of the defect a simple plug patch worked like a charm and they did not have to dismount or spin up the tire again. $10 and a mighty heave of the repaired tire into the trunk and I was off to work. Later that day during lunch I swapped the spare for the repaired tire and called it mission accomplished.

(Image: Testing the E36 blower motor before completing installation While changing a tire is a pretty simple affair, I'll use this time to point out something very important if you need to do an impromptu tire swap on the side of the road with the OE jack. Make sure you firmly apply the emergency brake and chock the wheels before you start jacking the car. The design of the OE jack is such that if the car moves even slightly (and it will as the car is raised, even if the road is nearly perfectly level) the jack may tip and cause the car to "fall off" the jack. If you don't have a set of small wheel chocks in your car, you should pick up a set. They may just save you a lot of hassle, and perhaps your life as well.

Labor: $10

HVAC Blower Replacement

If you've been reading this blog for the past 6+ months you already know that I've long loathed the thought of replacing the HVAC blower motor. Based on many of the comments made online about this job I fully expected it to be a royal pain in the ass. And as it turned out that wasn't far from the truth. At the end of the day, however, the biggest problem I had with the job was of its sheer tedium, rather than difficulty. It's not a hard job, but it does take time to do, and a certain amount of physical and mental stamina to do well. As I write this I have muscles aching in my body I never knew I had.

The good news is that I replaced the motor just in time. Not only were the bearings on the way out, I discovered much to my surprise that the brushes were almost shot. What this means is that these motors wear out regardless whether they are making noise and need to be replaced on a regular interval. For me that interval is now 175K miles and that will be reflected in my maintenance spreadsheet when I get around to updating it. Sadly, I doubt I'll own this car in another 11 years and 175K miles, but if I do I'll have no problem replacing the motor again.

I managed to complete the job in about four hours if I take into account the fact that I was sightseeing (taking pictures) and taking detailed notes for the upcoming DIY. Book labor for the job is 3.1 hours. The dealer's labor rate with tax is now $128, so that works out to a cool $397 labor savings. I bought the part last December for $370, a savings of $117 over the dealer's retail price. That brings the total DIY dividend for this job to a satisfying (if not astonishing) $514.

And speaking of the DIY, it may take some time to write. I have a lot of notes and over 150 detailed pictures to organize into something coherent. But bear with me...I think it will be worth the wait.

Mileage: 178550, [Parts Purchased 12/2008: $370, Parts Saved: $117], Labor savings: $397