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Monday, July 22, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oil Service

While the E36 was in the shop for paint work I drove the E46 continuously for a bit over two months and managed to rack up 3370 miles in the process. While a bit early for an oil service based purely on mileage I have long known from my work in aviation that the byproducts of combustion released into the oil become acidic over time and it's therefore best to store engines with fresh oil.

(Image: The E46 ready for winter 2014)So today I prepared the E46 for its long winter sleep by completing an oil service with seven quarts of BMW 5W-30. For the first time I decided to use an OEM Mann filter as I have grown increasingly annoyed at the continual hikes in BMW's parts prices. When I pulled it out of the box its quality looked every bit as good as the BMW filter, and that's no surprise -- it likely comes off the same production line as the BMW branded units.

Storage Prep and Planned Work

Given how crappy our fuel is these days I typically add fuel stabilizer (Sta-Bil) to the tank for the winter. Normally this stuff is supposed to be put in the tank immediately prior to filling it, presumably to help mix the additive well. With the gauge showing around 7/8ths of a tank, however, it made little sense to go to the station so I did the next best thing: take the car out on my local test loop and slosh the fuel around the old fashioned way.

While inspecting the engine bay I found a ton of small leaves in hard-to-reach areas like the rear corners just under the hydraulic lifting arms. After cursing BMW's designers (hey, my E36 collects leaves too but they're easily removed) I decided to use water to carefully flush everything out and then use towels to dry as much of the engine bay as possible. In an effort to prevent rust I let the engine come up to normal operating temperature and then closed the hood before I drove the car back into the garage, as I have found the heat buildup under the hood tends to dry out the areas I can't reach with a towel.

While cleaning the right rear wheel a few weeks ago I noticed a bubble had formed in the sidewall near the bottom of the tire -- likely the result of a pothole. Because the bubble did not grow over the following weeks I knew it wasn't a pressing concern but I nevertheless decided at that point to replace the runflats with Pilot Super Sports next spring and repair the front wheel I curbed a couple years back so it can serve as a full-size spare. Take that, 2 series buyers!

As I was wrapping everything up and reconnecting the Battery Minder it dawned on me I haven't done a coolant flush on the car in four years -- which is BMW's official schedule but about twice the timeframe I usually advocate and use for the E36. I'm done working on the car for the season so it will be first on the list of things to do next spring just before I take the E36 out of service again for the interior and stereo work.

Mileage: 19270