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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

(Image: Blackstone labs report for April 18, 2014 at 247475 miles)Oil Service and Analysis

Although I still like to perform an oil service on the M52 at 4500 miles, particularly as the engine has aged, the rings have allowed more blowby, and the oil gets dirtier faster, I've been so busy lately I didn't realize until last weekend that 5041 miles had passed since the last oil service. So I naturally picked up an oil service kit including 6 quarts of 5W-30 at the dealer and banged out that job in short order.

For those that wonder why I'm still using 5W-30 when 15W-50 would probably be a better choice for this aging engine and its ever-widening clearances, it comes down to the oil analysis. If I were to change oil types my trend data would be of less value. But as the most recent report has once again confirmed high lead I'm contemplating making the switch to extend the life of the bearing(s) causing the problem.

When the engine was new it was so smooth that it was honestly impossible to tell the engine was running if it were not for the exhaust note and gauges telling me so. And while I've noticed the engine become gradually less smooth over the years there is now a distinct vibration at idle that disappears if I even lightly tap on the throttle to raise RPM by as little as 50 or so. This vibration is significant enough to cause the broken pockets in the original passenger side door panel to vibrate. Is this an effect of the bearing wear indicated by high lead in the oil analysis? Possibly.

Lower Interior Overhaul Planning

Last weekend I ordered a new center armrest in beige from the dealer because, as it turns out, plenty are available in inventory at a reasonable price. In fact, the price was about half that I paid when I last installed one in 2004 (that's ten years ago folks...I cannot believe how fast time is flying or how long I've owned this car, but I digress), which makes me think that this is either a very popular part or BMW accidentally over-ordered their last batch and they're trying to clear inventory. In any case, the cost of the pre-finished BMW part is about 30% less than the cost of the leather cover alone available from GAHH Leather, which obviously does not factor into account the cost and potential headaches of installation.

With the rear seat leather and all the headrests completely dried out and cracking I have decided to bite the bullet, do this the right way, and order all new leather from GAHH. I called them this week to clarify a few things including price and availability. They said that all covers are made to order and are typically ready to ship in five days from order placement. Since they're in California and ship ground I'm expecting a shipping time of 5-7 days, which means I'll need to order them soon if I am to begin the work in May as planned. I also asked them to clarify whether the rear seat kit includes the rear side bolsters as their diagrams didn't make that clear to me. They asked me to send them a picture of the bolster and I'm now waiting on a reply.

I've also reserved a slot in my brother's new garage, which while still without overhead lighting should provide a suitable location for the work. The main requirement, as indicated by my technician, is that the doors need to be able to swing fully open to remove the seats. There also needs to be sufficient room to maneuver the awkwardly huge and heavy front carpet section in and out of the car on either side.

I'm still not sure whether I'll have to remove the dashboard to get this job done and I would obviously like to avoid that because of the complexity involved. You can see what I mean from the pictures supplied by a reader in the Netherlands, who did the job last summer on his M3 and was kind enough to provide some feedback. He said if I didn't want to cut the carpet the dashboard would need to come out because it's attached to the various supports (highlighted in the pictures with red arrows) that penetrate the carpet. I think this question will be answered on the fly after pulling the lower dashboard panels and center console so I can get a clear look at the obstacles involved. Naturally I plan to take plenty of pics and video when the time comes so you'll be able to live the nightmare with me. Stay tuned.

Mileage: 247675