(Image: Header Graphic)

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

Like what you see?

Donations to dvatp.com are now processed via Stripe. Like this site? It's easier than ever to show your appreciation.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oil Analysis Results

(Image: Blackstone Labs Oil Analysis Report for October 14, 2010)Blackstone returned the oil analysis results today and I have officially breathed a sigh of relief because the lead value has returned to normal. This leads credence to the diagnosis of a particle streak and gives me hope that this engine could soldier on for another 50K miles or more without needing any serious work. The downside is, as I approach 200K miles, that if I do experience any trouble with the engine the best course of action will likely be a complete teardown and rebuild...probably to the tune of $10K. All I can do is hope that by continuing to service the engine properly it will go the remaining distance.

Years ago when I started hanging around my technician's shop I noticed he used to remove the engine air filter and tap it on a clean surface. When I saw the amount of sand and other debris come out of the pleats I vowed to perform that simple task on a regular basis (every couple thousand miles, or every oil service at a minimum) and I'm firmly convinced that this practice, in combination with a new filter every 30K miles, has a positive effect on the silicon value in these results. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I have no idea why anyone would want to run a so-called "high performance" filter and risk sandblasting the interior of their engine.

Email Trend

I figure I'll take this time to point out a trend in the email I've been receiving over the last couple of years.

I still receive the usual "thanks for the site" email a few times a week and always appreciate those because it tells me people are still getting something useful from this site, but I've noticed a disturbing increase in the number of emails I receive from people asking advice on how to circumvent proper maintenance procedures for one reason or another (usually the cost involved). A couple cases in point:

More than one person has asked me for advice regarding alternatives to replacement of the auxilliary fan. When I reminded one guy that the aftermarket unit highlighted in my Auxillary Fan DIY was a bargain relative to the OE part and a great way to save money, he openly admitted that he didn't have $250 for that part. As I tried to come up with a rebuttal I just shook my head and wondered WHY.

One guy from a foreign country that will go nameless recently asked me if I would comment on how the engine would run if he removed the O2 sensors and gutted the catalytic converters because "he couldn't afford $2000 cats on a car I bought for $3000". Regardless of the fact that his country reportedly had no regulations prohibiting this modification, I had to be blatantly honest and tell him that not only would that result in decreased engine performance but also a hell of a lot more pollution. I won't bother you with the remaining details of the exchange but this was the proverbial straw. I have to get some things off my chest:

  1. Please do not send me email asking me how to cut corners on maintenance. This website should be proof positive that I subscribe to a different philosophy so I will no longer waste my time trying to give any advice contrary to that philosophy.
  2. Just because you bought your BMW for $3000 does not mean you can afford to own it. I spend, on average, $0.25 per mile on maintenance on my E36. Do the math before you sign on the dotted!
  3. If you can't afford to spend $2000 for new cats it's time to buy a Honda, and if you don't have $250 to allocate to vehicle expenses in any given month it's time to acquaint yourself with alternate forms of transportation including public transit and/or a bicycle.

And before you email me to cry foul, keep in mind that I practice what I preach. I've long wanted to purchase a twin engine airplane, and at market prices approaching that of a nice Porsche, I could buy one if I wanted to, but I haven't taken the leap for one reason: I can't afford to feed the thing 30 gallons of 100 octane aviation gasoline per hour when gas is $5/gallon. That's $150/hr in fuel alone, and fuel is but one small cost of the total operating expenses of such an aircraft. The same could be said for a BMW.

Mileage: 198500, Parts: $25