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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Oil Service

(Image: New center engine bay seal)The other morning I noticed the OIL SERVICE indicator appear in the gauge cluster so I double-checked the mileage. Sure enough I was overdue for an oil service so I bought an oil service kit and wrapped up the task in short order. When all was said and done 5059 miles had passed since the last oil service. I took a sample last time so no sample was taken.

During my routine inspection while the front end was up on ramps I noticed a bit of oil collecting on one of the rubber power steering hoses that appears to be coming from the forward portion of the oil pan seal. I also noticed a fine oil coating embedded with dirt over a bulk of the oil pan. I didn't find this anything to be concerned about so I wiped everything down and will reinspect this area at the next oil service.

Engine Bay Rubber Seals

Over the last few years I've noticed that the rubber seals that mate with the hood have lost flexibility... so much so that they no longer tightly grip the metal ridge on which they mount. This causes them to pop off as I'm working in and around the engine bay.

The three parts (two identical parts on the left and right side of the engine bay plus one shorter segment that wraps around the cowl) are still available and relatively inexpensive so I picked them up and installed them during the oil service. The only functional difference I've noticed so far is that the hood release requires more force to actuate.

You may notice some cracking in the rubber just below the new seal. That is associated with what BMW calls the "heater closing panel", part number 51712250462. It's basically a metal panel with a thick rubber coating applied to minimize heat and noise transfer. I first noticed the rubber disintegrating when I replaced the blower motor several years ago and in retrospect I should have tried to order a new one back then as the part is now clearly "ENDED" and my parts guys confirmed there were none in worldwide inventory. This is a recording. My plan at this point is to pull the part during the interior overhaul, strip it of the rubber coating, have it blasted and powdercoated and then wrap it with some appropriate heat-tolerant adhesive-backed insulation material.

Leather Shift Knob Cracked

(Image: New shift lever with black leather)When the car was a year old and still under warranty I had the shift knob replaced because the leather had deteriorated. I learned from that point on not to rest my hand on top of the knob and as a result the leather remained in good shape for the bulk of the last 14 years. Unfortunately, a couple weeks ago I noticed that the leather had started to crack adjacent to one of the stitches.

Given the rate at which essential parts are being ENDED for the E36 of late I decided that it would be a good idea to pick up a new shift lever as part of my interior restoration effort. The retail price of the part was ridiculous but the parts guys took pity on me and chopped nearly 50% off, bringing the price down into the range of “almost reasonable”. However, since I know full well the knob is likely to be damaged while I swap in the new carpet this part will literally be the last thing I install in that effort.

Stromung Exhaust Selected

With the understanding that the rear exhaust section is effectively no longer available I began my search for an aftermarket solution. After watching more videos at 240P with horribly distorted audio than I'd care to admit I ultimately stumbled upon a couple videos for the Stromung E36 exhaust. At idle it sounds a lot like the stock E46 ZHP exhaust – rich and throaty without sounding “boomy" -- and as the RPMs rise and fall it sounds appropriately aggressive but without any of the rasp and burbling typical of the other exhausts I reviewed. Bimmerforums comments were also extremely favorable to me, generally describing the sound as conservative relative to the other exhausts on the market.

I briefly reviewed the Stromung website and did not find anything about the materials used to fabricate the pieces so I emailed them. They responded the next day, apologized for the delay, and noted “The materials we use on all our systems are 304 on the mufflers and tips and 439 for the tubing.” For those unaware, 304 stainless is typically used in the most expensive automotive exhaust components. It's high in Chromium (20%) and Nickel (10%) which explains why 304 doesn't rust and is non-magnetic. 400 series stainless steels typically contain slightly less Chromium (17-19%) and significantly lower Nickel (<1%), which makes them more susceptible to general corrosion but more appropriate for higher temperature applications. 439 in particular displays improved resistance to chloride induced corrosion over both 409 and 304. Why is this important? Because road departments dump untold tons of Sodium Chloride and, more recently, Magnesium Chloride, on the roads in the winter months in my area.

Closing out our email conversation Stromung indicated that if I were interested in purchasing the exhaust direct they were running a 10% off sale associated with Black Friday. I never make a purchase decision based strictly on it being associated with a sale, Black Friday or otherwise, but a discount that effectively resulted in free shipping of a bulky object across the country was too good to be ignored. I placed the order and expect to see the part in about a week. In the meantime I plan to pick up new mounting hardware and, given the time in service, new rubber mounts as well.

Mileage: 242434