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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

HVAC Display Failure Detail

I mentioned recently that the HVAC LCD had started to delaminate but I neglected to provide a picture of the phenomenon. As you can see in the picture below the LCD mask material has started to come free of the glass. As this is a negative display this results in the backlight being exposed in the affected areas. This occurred spontaneously and is not the result of physical damage to the LCD.

The new unit will no doubt fix this problem but I wonder for how long. If the display in the remanufactured unit was not replaced while that unit was reworked (entirely possible if it was returned to BMW due to the common capacitor failure) my guess is the display of the remanufactured unit will delaminate in a few years, right on schedule. One thing is sure -- if this does occur I'm going to throw the biggest fit my dealer has ever seen until they agree to replace it. I am done giving hundreds of dollars to BMW for used parts.

If I were running BMW I would make a point of supporting older cars by periodically reengineering essential components like this with current technology so the parts could be sold as new, and I would build all cars with open standards for the mechanical, electrical and software interfaces (APIs) so that owners would have the option of installing new equipment built by third parties at market prices, much as we once did with DIN chassis audio headunits. But as it stands, like most manufacturers these days, BMW is more concerned with coercing owners to buy a new car every few years and lining its pockets in the process so that will never happen.

Hint to BMW: Being a "Green" manufacturer is not about powering your plants with methane from a local landfill. It's about reducing the need to manufacture new cars, and that comes through designing them to be simple, resilient and maintainable long term, much like airplanes. The technological change we've seen in cars the last 15 years is not progress if we have to throw away our cars at ever increasing frequency to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Audio System Input Cable Fabricated

One of the things holding up the E36 from going to my technician for the carpet replacement and HVAC refurb has been the fact that I had not yet fabricated the cable I needed to run between the headunit and the DSP unit in the trunk while the carpet is out of the car. I managed to scrape a couple consecutive hours together last Sunday afternoon and created the cable.

I first took a rough measurement of the distance between the location in the trunk I planned to install the DSP and the headunit, with all the twists and turns I expect to make while routing it between those locations. That came out to 16 feet with some fudge factor. In reality, the total length will probably be closer to 14 feet. What I plan to do is locate the DB15 connector end where I intend to install the DSP unit (with service loop naturally), run the cable up to the area of the headunit, and cut off the excess. Then my technician will install the new carpet over it.

I used some 3/4" nylon braid to keep the four individually shielded pair cables grouped together yet "flattenable" to reduce the overall height of the cable when installed, and then dressed the connector end with some additional heatshrink to prevent the braid from fraying. The end result looks pretty good and is ready for installation.

Clearcoat Failure

Unfortunately the clear on a good portion of the car that was painted last fall has crazed. From a distance this causes reflections in the clear to appear out of focus. Close up the surface is riddled with a pattern of small cracks throughout. My guess is someone incorrectly mixed the clear, but I suppose a manufacturing defect in the clear itself is possible. It's now obvious that the car will need to be reworked. I certainly won't be paying one thin dime to remedy the problem but this is not about money; It's about having to pull the car apart yet again and deal with the hassle of getting the car to and from a shop 90 minutes from home. I have better things to do with my time. Needless to say I'm not happy.

The point of doing the carpet, etc. after the paint was to avoid having the carpet smell like the body shop. I had considered the possibility of accidental damage to the finish while the car is outside my watchful eye at my dealer but as I believe the chances of that happening are reasonably low I've decided to delay that work yet again and send the car back to the body shop sometime in the next couple of weeks. I've already called the shop and know from my brother's dealings with them that when they do mess up they fix it to satisfaction.

One thing is certain at this point: I am glad I declined to wrap the car or I would have been out several thousand dollars and likely had to fight the shop for warranty coverage because this is precisely the kind of paint failure that can occur if the car is wrapped too quickly following paint work. I can say with confidence this is not my fault.

Mileage: 261000