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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, August 19, 2018

ASC Throttle Body Position Sensor Replacement

Last time I tried to repair the ASC/ABS annunciators by fixing an obviously broken ASC actuator cable. The power on test extinguished the indicators initially but as I was to figure out a couple weeks later the problem returned.

I spoke with my technician again and he pointed out that the sensor is based on a wiper arrangement and not a hall effect (i.e. no-contact) sensor as I originally assumed. Given the fact that the wipers are actuated every time the vehicle starts and also whenever loss of traction occurs it's safe to say that the sensor has been actuated tens of thousands of times over the last twenty years. As a result I decided to replace the sensor. The sensor was around $100 my cost and I quickly replaced it today. The ASC / ABS lights are out now and I expect this to fix the problem, but I will of course have to wait a while before I call it fixed.

Tesa Wiring Harness Tape

For those restoring or otherwise attempting to preserve their E36s I thought I would relate a product I recently discovered -- the original fabric tape used by BMW's wiring harness OEM. Years ago when my harnesses under the hood started to come apart I used a "fabric tape" I learned about from my work as an electrician. While this tape (typically manufactured by 3M/Scotch) will work in a pinch it is not nearly the same product as the factory original tape in either appearance or function.

As it turns out the factory original tape (or the currently shipping equivalent) is Tesa 51608 PVO. Just from experimenting with this tape I have noticed it has a lot less adhesive than the 3M fabric tape. While this may explain why it can fail over the long haul (10+ years) in high heat environments like under the hood, I think this is actually a benefit, as I have found the 3M version tends to smear all of its adhesive over the wires as the harness flexes, creating a mess in the process. For this reason I definitely recommend use of the Tesa product for repair or restoration of the factory wiring harnesses.

The E36 Retires

I recently moved the E46 out of my garage and into climate-controlled quarters to free space to store the E36 so I could finally retire it from daily driver status and place it on my Hagerty's classic car policy. As I had already put the E46 on the Hagerty's policy and paid a lot more initially due to the lack of a multi-car discount, I only paid a couple hundred dollars more to add the E36. The end result is that I'm now insuring both cars for a stated value for about half the cost of regular insurance that wasn't really providing meaningful coverage.

(Image: New GTI to allow E36 to retire from daily driver status)

Of course, as I previously indicated, Hagerty's classic car policies have several restrictions. The two most relevant in this context are that the covered vehicles must be garaged and the owner must have a dedicated and reliable daily driver insured by another carrier. The move of the E46 out of the garage cleared the way for the E36 and thus satisfied the first requirement. But then there was the small detail of having a reliable daily driver.

After searching for several months among various brands including Kia (which have come a long way in the last 10 years) I fell back on old habits and picked up a 2018 VW GTI with DSG in Autobahn trim. I managed to get $4600 off the sticker including a partner discount and took delivery of a car that was shipped directly from the port, complete with plastic wrapping. I asked for no service other than the standard PDI and requested that the tech eliminate the usual test drive following PDI so I could be the first person to drive it off the lot. The dealership met all of my requirements and I took delivery with only a few miles on the clock.

I selected the GTI for a variety of reasons, but since this is a BMW blog I'll keep this short and simple. First, it's small and hence easy to park. It's efficient, with mileage in the low 30s, which should reduce the sting to my wallet as gas prices rise again. It has the best interior of the segment, with seats rivaling those of my BMWs, and it performs remarkably well, which probably has something to do with it's modest (by today's standards, anyway) weight and electronically adjustable suspension, which in sport mode feels a lot like my E36's hybrid 328/M3 suspension.

If you're wondering whether I'm going to start a GTI blog, all I can say is "possibly, but not likely". I don't really have time to write blogs anymore but the motivation for a GTI blog may be the same reason I created this blog 20 years ago -- to help me keep track of maintenance of the vehicle. The issue is that I don't plan to do much of the maintenance on this vehicle, as it came with free scheduled maintenance and a 6 year / 72000 mile comprehensive warranty. Also, in strong contrast to my E36 ownership experience, I don't plan to keep the GTI outside that warranty period so while I may work on the vehicle occasionally to save money I don't plan to obsess about it in the same way I did with my E36. Put simply -- that phase of my life is over.

What's Next?

There are several unfinished projects on the E36:

I suppose the good news with regard to these projects is I can now take the car out of service for as long as I want to accomplish them. The bad news is I expect my schedule to be crazier than usual for the next couple of years (and trust me -- that's saying something, since my 6 day / 80 hour a week schedule for the last three years hasn't been a picnic). When I manage to scrape together enough hours to tackle these projects, I'll naturally take you along for the ride, but until then expect blog entries to be few and far between as the E36 enjoys its retirement and I enjoy a new car and new professional challenges.

Mileage: 270500