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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Update 06.26.06

First Oil Service

I subscribe to the theory that BMW had a sound approach to routine scheduled maintenance -- before they instituted free scheduled maintenance and tried to market the idea of a low-maintenance BMW.

For example, all cars had a 1200 mile break-in service in which they flushed all the fluids and performed various adjustments. While some of the items are not applicable to my 330ci due to improvements or changes in the technology (the M54 has hydraulic lifters, so there's no need for a valve adjustment, for example) I'm still somewhat disturbed that BMW doesn't suggest so much as an engine oil service on the non-M cars after exiting the break-in period. New engines and other complex machines make metal during their break-in period -- plain and simple.

For this reason, I decided I'd do an oil service at around 1200 miles. I had planned to take a trip last weekend that would have put the total mileage around 1200, but I never wound up going due to weather. In spite of being a bit early, I figured I had nothing to lose and a clean oil filter and sump to gain.

After completing the oil service my technician took a quick look at the car's diagnostics and found no trouble, so the car appears good to go for another 4500 miles or 4 months until the next oil service. Given the propensity for the E46 steptronic transmissions to fail earlier than that in my E36, I am contemplating doing a transmission fluid flush and filter change at that time -- regardless of what BMW says.

Rattling Remedied

This appointment was originally scheduled primarily to address a rattling sound I heard when the exhaust resonated between 1800 and 2000 RPM. It started around the 500 mile mark and was reminescent of the sound I heard when the E36's muffler heat shield was found loose. The sound appeared to come from somewhere underneath the car directly under the shift knob, but at times it seemed to also come from the front of the vehicle or somewhere behind the dash.

I set out one day to duplicate the problem to see if I could better characterize it to my technician. And that's when I figured out what it was. I got the rattle to occur and then I pulled the armrest up. The noise was louder than ever. It was the coin holder! A few weeks earlier I went down to my mother's shore house and got caught on the GSP without change so the first thing I did when I got home was pack it full of nickels, dimes, and quarters. It just so happened that the spring tension and the number of coins made the entire holder resonate with the exhaust. I simply took one coin out of each section, pushed on the remaining coins to actuate the springs a few times and the noise stopped. Problem solved.

When I told the story to my technician, he chuckled a bit and then related a story about a woman who came in with a rattle that appeared to be coming from the front of the vehicle but couldn't be localized. She griped and put up a big stink, complaining about the quality of BMWs, yadda^3, before one of the techs took her out on a test drive and traced it to -- of all things -- her EZ-Pass transponder. It used one of the older suction cup mounts that permitted one edge of the unit to touch the window slightly. When the tech removed the unit from the window, both the car and the woman went silent!

Total Mileage: 1028, Parts: $51, Labor: 41, Total Cost: $107.