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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back to Winter Tires

I couldn't quite believe my eyes, but in the course of less than 12 hours, yesterday's forecast for 50 degrees and a rainy nor'easter here in New Jersey morphed into what would become our first hit of freezing temperatures and the first snow of the season. We don't normally get snow this early in the season so it caught everyone off guard, including me. We received the requisite high winds and rain, combined with about a 1/4" of ice pellets and snow yesterday, and today I woke up to find the car covered in about an inch of snow. Nothing big, but enough to convince me that winter had unceremoniously arrived and I needed to swap my PS2s for the Winter Sport M3s pronto.

(Image: E36 receiving its first service in the new garage)I have made it practice to replace my winter tires after two seasons because by that time in service the rears have typically worn down to or below the winter wear bars. However, after I closely inspected the tires I noticed that the rears were very slightly (perhaps 1/16") above the winter wear bars and the fronts were characteristically worn on the edges more than the center, but the center tread was well above the winter wear bars. In short, the tires were in reasonable condition so I decided to put these tires into service for another season and pocket the $800 in tires and mounting charges...at least until next year at this time.

So today I wound up doing the swap in my brother's toybox -- my first work in the new building. The lighting wasn't operational yet so I simply left the garage doors open and got to work in the balmy 40 degree air. It took me a little extra time because I had to haul all the necessary tools including my compressor down there but I eventually got the job done. I then washed the summer wheels before I put them and all the tools back in my garage. I would have preferred to leave some of my tools down there but the building will be soon cleared so the floor can be etched and sealed. No point in getting ahead of ourselves.

On a side note, the PS2s have worn far better than I anticipated this season, but I've attributed that largely to the fact that the car was taken out of service for two months earlier this year. The good news is that should allow me to get a full season out of the tires next year without hitting the wear bars. Time will tell.

Oil Service

I also realized a couple weeks ago that my odometer was creeping up on the 4500 mile mark since my last oil service, so I dropped by the dealer to pick up an oil service kit and conducted a routine oil service today. I decided to skip the oil sample this time around but expect to take a sample next time. I cleared the INSPECTION service indicator with my homemade reset tool by shorting pin 7 of the 20 pin connector to ground for exactly 11 seconds, started the engine, made sure the oil pressure light extinguished within a few seconds, closed the hood, pulled the car off the ramps and went home for the day.

Steering Wheel Noise

Over the last few months a noise and associated vibration in the steering wheel has developed that occurs whenever the steering wheel is turned rapidly, which is pretty much every turn at low speed (in my neighborhood, parking lots, and such). The noise was intermittent at first, but now it's gotten to the point that it's annoying me so I may have to pull the wheel and do some further troubleshooting. I had plans to address this next spring during the front suspension and steering column overhaul, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Surprise Garage-Warming Party

The best part of the day didn't have anything to do with the BMW, aside from the fact that I happened to be working on the car in the new building at the time. My brother's wife had pulled me aside last weekend to tell me she was planning a surprise "garage-warming party" for him today. To keep the secret while doing all the planning and even putting my brother to work sourcing the tables and chairs for 40 people, she told him that the party was to celebrate the birthday of one of her daughter's friends.

We had talked about my need to do some work on the car earlier in the week so he asked if I could come over early today and help him set up the tables and chairs. While doing this he openly questioned why his wife would actually want to have a party for a bunch of kids in an unfinished and unheated garage, but he wisely applied the time-worn wisdom of "don't ask the woman questions, just do what she says".

When a bunch of people including my brother's friends and his next-door neighbor appeared and encircled him at one of the buffet tables he got a bit suspicious so his wife revealed the real purpose of the gathering. The expression on his face was priceless, as was his later admission that this was the best time to hold the party in the building because in a few months it would be packed with cars as well as a lift and there wouldn't be any space to put the tables. Ain't that the truth!

Mileage: 213290, Parts: $45