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Monday, June 24, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Return to Body Shop

Last time I pointed out that I had to bring the car back to the body shop to address some rust that had appeared once again around the front window frame. The shop did a decent job of addressing the rust, taking time to carefully cut out the rusty sections with sufficient margins to prevent a recurrence. Despite paying what I thought was an excessive amount for the work I picked up the car and assumed that would be the only pain and suffering I would experience. I was wrong.

I picked up the car last time on what was probably the coldest day of the season thus far -- the temperature was around 10F and the wind was howling as well. I did not want to be outside any longer than strictly necessary so I rather quickly looked over the car and, despite seeing a bunch of what appeared to be fingerprints and smudges on the C pillars, I accepted the car thinking naturally that the fingerprints were present simply because it was not possible to wash the car in sub-freezing temperatures. Sadly, as I was to eventually discover, I was mistaken.

For several weeks in late December and January the temperature rarely went above freezing and I was unable to wash and fully inspect the car. One day between snow storms I glanced over at my thermometer to find the temperature a whole five degrees above freezing so I figured I'd seize the opportunity, head over to my brother's garage, and use one of his "frost free" spigots with hot water on tap. Upon arrival I approached the spigot only to find it would not pull out or twist -- it was completely frozen solid. My brother confirmed the problem. I asked if it would be possible to attach a hose to the slop sink faucet but he reminded me that it had been leaking recently and his plumber had just replaced the faucet...with one that lacked the threads needed to secure the hose. Dejected, I went home and waited for a warmer day.

About a month passed before the weather pattern broke and I was granted a 45 degree day to clean up the car. As I took my wash mit and suds to the vehicle I came to the right side C pillar, which was in direct sun at this point, and stopped dead in my tracks. Despite being fully cleaned I noticed that the smudge marks were not only present but hugely obvious. I threw the wash mit back into the bucket, rinsed the area and then moved my hand over the surface. I was shocked to feel a distinct roughness and texture to the defects and recoiled in disbelief as I stepped back and saw the defects extending throughout the entire C pillar and into the quarter panel. A walk around the car revealed the same extent of defects on the other C pillar and quarter panel, though out of direct sun the defects on that side were far less obvious. I immediately called the body shop manager and asked for his advice. Always diplomatic he stated he would be willing to inspect the car if I brought it back to him, but I really wanted to avoid doing that given the inconvenience. So I told him I would attempt to polish it out and call him back.

I used a clean white foam pad to apply intensive polish (2000 grit) to the entire C pillar, only to find that after about 30 minutes of intense work I had done little more than eliminate the obvious surface texture. Unfortunately the underlying defects remained in the clear, and continued to shift or diffuse the light to the point that it made the basecoat appear darker in areas. Although I was somewhat relieved to discover the defects were in the clear and not the basecoat my heart sank when my attention was drawn to an obvious paint defect in the basecoat in the form of a couple drops of color that had pooled near the interface of the drip edge and the top corner of the rear window. This I clearly missed during my initial acceptance screening due to the weather. This was well beyond my ability to remedy so I knew I would be forced to take the car back to the shop. And the following week I did exactly that.

Fast forward three weeks. I took delivery of the car once again and was pleased to find all of the problems corrected and the overall quality of the job superior to the work done 3 years ago. Threatening to bring a magnifying glass and a paint inspection light to the delivery meeting will do that I suppose. During the delivery process the shop manager explained to me that he had brought the Glasurit paint rep out to take a look at the defects before they refinished the vehicle. The rep said that they had seen this kind of thing before and said they believed it to be caused by a contamination of the surface prior to application of the clear.

The shop owner said that when they are blending the clear they will scuff the existing clear with a special abrasive pad, clean up the surface with a tack rag and then use a special solvent designed to remove any contaminants. The problem, according to the Glasurit rep, was that the solvent the shop had been using was recently found to be inadequate in removing modern road salts, and the assumption was that the guy doing the prep transferred the salt from another car to mine while the vehicle was being moved in or around the paint booth. The salt then affected the cure of the clear. Of course the Glasurit rep provided the shop with the improved version of the solvent and reimbursed the shop for the materials used the first time around but I got nothing more than a hot cup of jack squat for my time and inconvenience.

I wish I could say at this point that the problem is solved but I've grown quite pessimistic about the quality of automotive paint these days. Perhaps in a few months, if the clear does not haze over like it did a couple years ago, I'll consider the work complete.

Drip Molding Delay Continues

The last delivery date for the drip moldings came and went without so much as a whisper from my dealer. And sadly, the off-handed remark I made last time about the parts not likely arriving until spring has turned out to be accurate. The new delivery date is 3/24. I would not put money on that date. It will probably slip too. Needless to say, I'm now considering reinstalling my old moldings until BMW gets its act together.

Although I knew it would be about as helpful as slamming my head into a wall, in an act of complete frustration I called BMW NA to complain. While I have brought parts availability issues to the concern of BMW customer service in the past, this time the rep said they have no way to check parts availability and therefore cannot provide any assistance in the matter. The rep offered to file a complaint so I gave her the part numbers and suggested they find a more reliable supplier.

So it appears I'll be waiting for the end of March to arrive along with the other 800+ people who have these trims on order, hoping that BMW doesn't just give up and declare them as no longer available. My advice to anyone else looking for these trims -- order more than you need, because something tells me this will be the last production run for these parts.